Huub Stevens has stepped down as head coach of Bundesliga club Hoffenheim due to a heart problem. The veteran coach said his doctors had told him that his condition will require surgery.
The 62-year-old Stevens told a hastily organized press conference on Wednesday that he had handed in his resignation after being told by doctors that he was suffering from heart arrhythmia and would require surgery in the near future. The Dutchman said he had not been feeling well recently, and as a result underwent a medical examination on Monday, in which the diagnosis was made.
"I am sorry that I have to leave the team and the club in this difficult and challenging situation," Stevens said. "However, I think everybody will understand that my health is my top priority," he added.
Asked if this would be the end of his coaching career, Stevens replied: "I think so."
Hoffenheim's sporting director, Alexander Rosen, who was also at the press conference, said that management and the players, who had been told the news just a couple of hours earlier, were saddened by the news.
Still in the drop zone
"Through his meticulous work over the past three-and-a-half months, Huub brought more stability to the team. We would have liked to have continued to work with him on the goal of avoiding relegation."
However, since taking over for the sacked Markus Gisdol in October, Stevens, who is the past has saved a number of Bundesliga clubs from the drop, had made precious little progress in his bid to keep Hoffenheim in the top flight.
Stevens leaves Hoffenheim in second-last place in the standings - the same position they were in when he took over - but tied on points with cellar dwellers Hannover. In the 10 games Hoffenheim played under Stevens, the team collected just eight points, including just one win, leaving them seven points from the safety of 15th place. His final game at the helm was Sunday's 2-0 home defeat by newly promoted Darmstadt.
Assistants take training session
Rosen said that Stevens' two assistants, Alfred Schreuder and Armin Reutershahn, were in charge of the team for the time being and had led Wednesday's training session.
Hoffenheim have already appointed a coach for next season. If the team manages to avoid the drop, current under-19 coach Julian Nagelsmann stands to become the youngest coach in Bundesliga history at just 28 years of age. Nagelsmann is slated to take over on July 1, after he has completed his coaching qualifications.