ATHENS - Greece have begun their search
for a new coach after Otto Rehhagel's tenure, which included
winning the European Championship against the odds in 2004, has
come to an end following their World Cup exit.
Rehhagel's contract expires on June 30 and his assistant
Yiannis Topalidis, who announced his departure after Tuesday's
2-0 loss to Argentina in their final group game, confirmed the
71-year-old German has bid farewell to his players.
"I have said what I had to say," Topalidis told reporters
late on Wednesday before the Greek team boarded their flight
home. "I have said goodbye to the players and so has the coach."
Greece's football federation is expected to formally
announce Rehhagel's resignation and successor in the next few
days following the squad's return from South Africa on Thursday.
Former PAOK Salonika coach Fernando Santos is the early
favourite to replace Rehhagel but said he had not yet been
contacted about the job despite reports in the Greek media that
he had already agreed a two-year deal in principle.
"I have not received any proposal from the Greek football
federation (EPO)," the 55-year-old Portuguese told Novasport FM.
"At the moment, that has not happened. If such a proposal comes
then I will study it seriously."
Santos, who has enjoyed great success as a club coach in the
country, was recently named Coach of the Decade at a ceremony in
Greece in recognition of his growing influence on Greek football.
The Lisbon native has coached three of Greece's biggest
clubs in AEK Athens, Panathinaikos and PAOK, who won the league
playoffs last season to finish runners-up.
It was their highest placing for 24 years and secured a
place in the Champions League qualifying rounds.
The Greece squad returned to Athens in the early hours of
Thursday morning, leaving Rehhagel behind in Durban with the
former Bayern Munich coach opting to stay behind to rest and
follow the rest of the tournament in South Africa.
Rehhagel has almost completed nine years in charge, guiding
Greece to unprecedented success. Ranked 100-1 outsiders, they
beat France and hosts Portugal in the final to win Euro 2004.
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