Panathinaikos snare Shum

Greek runners-up Panathinaikos FC have enticed Itzhak Shum from Maccabi Haifa FC to be their new coach.

Hellenic National League runners-up Panathinaikos FC have enticed Itzhak Shum from Maccabi Haifa FC to be their new coach.

Markarian departure
The 54-year-old Israeli has signed a two-year contract and replaces Uruguayan Sergio Markarian who quit the club in response to protests from supporters angry at a crucial defeat against Olympiakos Piraeus FC which effectively cost the club their first league title since 1996.

Israeli landmark
Shum took over at Maccabi this season, helping them become the first Israeli side to qualify for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League where they secured Group F victories against Manchester United FC and Greek champions Olympiakos but finished third in the four-team section and were eliminated.

League crown gone
Maccabi were subsequently knocked out of the UEFA Cup in the third round by AEK Athens FC 8-1 on aggregate. On Saturday Haifa lost their Israeli league crown as they were edged out on goal difference by Maccabi Tel-Aviv.

'One of the biggest clubs in Europe'
"Just like I had the privilege to become the first Israeli coach to lead a side into the champions league group stage, I have the honour to be the first to coach a foreign club," Schum told "I'm leaving Maccabi Haifa for one of the biggest clubs in Europe."

'A dream offer'
"I have gone through a lot in Israeli football and the criticism had no effect on my decision," said Schum. "The offer from Panathanaikos had nothing to do with what had happened in Haifa. I wasn't looking for offers from abroad because I was unhappy in Haifa. This is an offer that every coach dreams of."

Mutual admiration
Maccabi Haifa released a message thanking Schum for his efforts while in charge of the club. "Maccabi Haifa would like to thank Schum for the thrilling season and would like to wish him all the best of luck," the statement said. "We are glad to know that our club can export coaches as well as players abroad."

Panathinaikos prepare
Panathinaikos have qualified for next season's Champions League and will enter the competition in the group stage.