The world saw Zhirkov excel as a makeshift raiding full back for Russia at Euro 2008, but 1960 European champion Viktor Ponedelnik believes the role did more harm than good.
"As a player, Zhirkov was broken by Hiddink," said Ponedelnik, 73. "And it's important to say this loudly.
"Yuri played tremendously as a left attacking midfielder. He has a left leg as if he were holding a spoon in his hand to eat borsch (vegetable soup) from a cup.
"But Hiddink decided to invent some revolutionary system so that one player was the left back and the attacking winger. But for that it was necessary to insert four hearts in Zhirkov."