One of Europe's longest-serving coaches, Thomas Schaaf has parted company with SV Werder Bremen by mutual consent.
Schaaf, whose association with the German club began as an 11-year-old in 1972, took charge of first-team affairs in May 1999. The announcement comes with one game remaining of what has been a disappointing season for 14th-placed Bremen, who only preserved their Bundesliga status last weekend and have not won since 9 February.
Assistant coaches Wolfgang Rolff and Matthias Hönerbach will pick the team on Saturday at 1. FC Nürnberg, a fixture which Schaaf expressed a wish not to be in the dugout for. "We thank Thomas for everything he has done as player and coach in more than 40 years as part of this club," said sporting director Thomas Eichin.
"With him the club celebrated extraordinary success – he put his stamp on Werder Bremen. After the huge effort that was staying in the league, we were of the opinion that parting company by mutual agreement would be best for a planned fresh start."
Schaaf, who won the Bundesliga twice as a player with Bremen as well the 1992 European Cup Winners' Cup, led Die Grün-Weissen to the domestic double in 2004, two other German Cups, and the 2009 UEFA Cup final in Istanbul where they were beaten by FC Shakhtar Donetsk. Under the 52-year-old, Die Werderaner featured in the UEFA Champions League group stage on six occasions.
"I had an extraordinary time, with lots of positive experiences and big success here," said Schaaf, whose tenure amounted to 644 competitive games. "I want to thank everyone who walked this road with me and supported me. I wish Werder Bremen a successful future."
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