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King Otto resigns as Greece coach after World Cup elimination

Otto Rehagel, the man who led Greece to its greatest triumph at the 2004 European Championships, has resigned as the coach of the Greece national team after its exit from the 2010 World Cup.

Otto Rehhagel

Rehagel will be remembered for the Euro 2004 miracle

Greece's football federation officially announced that the national team's German coach Otto Rehagel - affectionately known as Rehakles - was standing down after the Greece team arrived back home from South Africa on Thursday.

Rehagel, who had been in charge of Greece for nine years and who was the longest-serving manager at the 2010 World Cup, apparently informed his players of his plans to resign after the 2-0 defeat to Argentina on Tuesday sealed the team's World Cup fate. He has apparently chosen to stay behind in Durban to follow the rest of the tournament while his players flew home.

Despite being knocked out at the group stages, Greece managed to record its first ever World Cup victory under the former Bayern Munich coach, beating Nigeria 2-1. The country's only other World Cup appearance, at the 1994 tournament in the United States, ended with three defeats and no goals.

2004 win Rehagel's greatest achievement

Otto Rehagel, second from left, the coach of Greece, celebrates with the team after beating Portugal 1-0 at the end of the Euro 2004 soccer championship final match at the Luz stadium in Lisbon, Portugal, Sunday, July 4, 2004.

Greece beat the likes of France and Portugal in 2004

While this will be another Greek record which will have Rehagel's name beside it, his greatest achievement will always be taking the 100-1 outsiders for the 2004 European Championship title to the final and sensationally beating host nation Portugal to lift the trophy.

That amazing success six years ago endeared the German coach to the hearts of the Greek support but recently his perceived negative style, his notorious stubbornness and unpopular team selections have caused some of the faithful to openly criticize him.

Rehagel was definitely loyal to a number of the Euro 2004 winning team who looked too long in the tooth and took captain Giorgos Karagounis, Kostas Katsouranis and Giourkas Seitaridis to the World Cup. It is likely that the end of Rehagel's reign will bring their international careers to a close too.

The German's departure leaves the way open for PAOK Salonika coach Fernando Santos, the current front runner to replace him. Despite taking his team into the Champions League this season, Santos is expected to fill the shoes of Rehakles with some quarters of the Greek press already suggesting that his signature has been secured on a contract that runs through the 2012 Euros in Poland and Ukraine.

Retirement, or one last job?

What happens to Rehagel next is more unclear.

At 71-years old, some think it may be time for Rehagel to hang up his tracksuit but it is also possible that the wily old master has one more big job in him and may fancy a crack at club soccer once again.

Otto Rehagel

Rehagel won the Bundesliga with Bremen and Kaiserslautern

With successful Bundesliga experience gained at Werder Bremen, and Kaiserslautern (alongside his less happy spell at Bayern Munich), Rehagel may be tempted to return to Germany. However, the pressures and rigors of running a Bundesliga club over an entire season maybe too much for him. If so, he may consider one more lucrative national coaching job, perhaps somewhere warm.

With South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira also stepping down, maybe Rehakles is staying on in Durban for reasons other than just to take a well-earned rest and watch a bit of football with the pressure off.

Author: Nick Amies
Editor: Matt Hermann

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