The Dutchman's consistency, and his central role in Chelsea's steady development, have long dispelled those doubts. He has set the best possible example, on and off the pitch. Now, as with Jurgen Klinsmann last year, thoughts are turning to Wembley in May. While Klinsmann's Wembley quest assumed a momentum more akin to the US presidential elections - until it crashed into Everton - Gullit is seeking to keep his progress more low-key.
"An FA Cup match is the same as any other," he said after Chelsea breezed into the last eight with a 4-1 fifth-round replay win over Grimsby Town on Wednesday. "It is like playing in the European Cup, only when you get to the final is it different.
"I played twice at Wembley for Holland but, once you get on the pitch, it does not matter where you are. You are fixed on what you are doing, maybe you notice it when you have won."
Gullit is, however, passionate about the Chelsea team, and his own continued pursuit of excellence. "At the beginning of the season we had ups and downs. The 5-0 [win over Middlesbrough four weeks ago] was not such a good moment because, after it, we got a bit sloppy. We thought 'we have done it now'. You only win games when you compete for every metre - or," he added with a grin, "as you would say, every yard."
"We won this match but there is nothing to celebrate yet. When you are in the final you have something to look forward to - that is what you learn during your career.
"I still believe I can play better than I did at Milan. Every day you learn something. If you think you have achieved everything you have nothing to do. I had never played in England. I try to use my experience and learn from their experience. You only stop learning when you quit. You have to be open to everything. Football develops, it becomes quicker, players develop as athletes.
"In Italy players are more patient when building an attack, there is more passing football. In Italy a striker is just preparing himself for the last moment. Here they are working the channels all the time, going from left to right, to left again. Sometimes they are so tired they are not ready when the moment comes.
"I have told them not to do that. I want Spenny [John Spencer] and Mark [Hughes] to be sharp. I do not want Spenny running from left to right, I want him here," he said, gesturing in front of him, "where I can find him. He is a good professional, he wants to improve. Besides, it is what a striker wants to hear. I run, but I do not run for nothing."Reuse content