Without Hiddink's objection when Roman Abramovich decided Drogba must be made to pay for his moment of madness at Chelsea's Champions League exit, he would have been out of the door.
Chelsea's Russian owner, still seething at the manner of the departure from the competition and another opportunity lost to land the Champions League, was disgusted by his antics and the damage to the image of the club.
With Abramovich's intimates alluding to Drogba's personal demands by mockingly suggesting he wanted a 50 per cent pay rise for scoring goals on top of his current £100,000 "for falling over", the player was on the brink.
Hiddink, though, told Abramovich he should not act in haste when he would be forced to repent at leisure once Drogba went. He argued that for all his flaws, tantrums and at times outrageous behaviour, Drogba could perhaps be replaced, but never replicated.
"I don't think he should be punished," said Hiddink.
"I think we have, first, to calm down and then get to what this club thinks about it on a high level.
"He must not react as he did, but I can understand some emotions. If UEFA have played football themselves, then when people apologise for their behaviour the first step has been taken towards making things normal."