NEWS

Rehhagel to stay with Greece

Greek soccer team coach Otto Rehhagel rejected on Saturday a lucrative offer to coach the German national team through the 2006 World Cup and will remain at Greece’s helm, instead. «Unfortunately, he will not take the job; he wants to continue his work in Greece where he has built something,» Franz Beckenbauer, deputy president of the German soccer federation (DWB) and head of a panel appointed to find a new national team coach, said. Rehhagel’s reputation has soared after he led Greece from complete underdogs to European Soccer Champions last week. Germany’s humiliating early exit from the same tournament, followed by the resignation of coach Rudi Voller, had turned Rehhagel into the heavy favorite to get the job. «We were so focused on Rehhagel that we had no other thoughts,» Beckenbauer admitted after Rehhagel called him to reject the offer. «I was surprised. I was expecting to discuss the details of the contract. I think emotional reasons prevailed for Rehhagel,» added Beckenbauer. Greek soccer federation (EPO) President Vassilis Gagatsis seemed to agree. «I had said right from the start that it is a non-issue. Rehhagel is not just bound by his EPO contract, but also by his word.» Gagatsis, however, had not been as certain when Rehhagel appeared to seriously consider Germany’s offer, reported to include 5 million euros for a two-year contract plus a million euros to EPO to release him. Gagatsis had said that he could not force Rehhagel to remain. Rehhagel reportedly receives 370,000 euros, plus bonuses, annually from EPO. His decision to stay was greeted with great relief in a country that has idolized him and where even the president and prime minister asked him to stay.