SPORTS

Olympiakos coach Valverde will leave club in May

By George Georgakopoulos

Olympiakos coach Ernesto Valverde announced on Thursday he will leave the Greek champion at the end of the season for personal reasons.

At the end of his third season at Olympiakos - all of which ended in league triumphs - and with the cup final still pending, Valverde said «next year I will not be the Olympiakos coach and this is a difficult day for me. Last year, when we renewed our contract with the president I told him that this would be my last year at the club. We had agreed to say nothing about it as the president had hoped that he would change my mind in the course of the season and because we did not want to upset the team."

Addressing a press conference next to Olympiakos president Vangelis Marinakis, Valverde made it clear he was not leaving because of an interest from another team, with reports suggesting this week that he turned down a proposal by Spartak Moscow.

"The main reason is personal and affects only me. This is something that concerns one's personal life, and cannot be discussed in a press conference. Beyond that, I have run a full cycle with Olympiakos. Three years in soccer is a long time.

"When I first came in 2008 I did not know much about Olympiakos or Greece in general. I always wondered whether I had made the right decision and at first I did not know the answer. Now I know for sure that it was a successful decision,» said Valverde who was at Olympiakos from 2008 to 2009 and from 2010 to date.

Besides the three league titles with Olympiakos he also won the cup in 2009.

Marinakis rushed to dismiss any talk of Valverde's successor, saying «we will only discuss this issue from early June onward."

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