Having led NK Maribor to the group stage two years running, Slovenia's most successful club coach Darko Milanič will now attempt to do the same for Austria's SK Sturm Graz.
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The most successful coach in Slovenian football history, Darko Milanič has left NK Maribor for Austria's SK Sturm Graz.
Sturm, who will begin their UEFA Europa League campaign in the second qualifying round after finishing fourth in the Austrian Bundesliga, have appointed Milanič on a three-year contract. He played for Sturm between 1993 and 2000, winning two titles, and later had a spell as assistant coach in 2006/07. The new man takes over from interim boss Markus Schopp.
Milanič, 45, has spent five years at the Maribor helm, winning four championships – including the last three in a row – three Slovenian Cups (this term completing his second successive double) and reaching the 2011/12 and 2012/13 UEFA Europa League group stages.
The former NK Primorje and ND Gorica coach, part of Slovenia's squad at UEFA EURO 2000, said: "I'm really a bit stressed. I have to thank everybody at Maribor, especially sports director Zlatko Zahovič, all my co-workers, the fans, especially our faithful fan group the Viole, for supporting me these past five years.
"I really enjoyed my work here, I have made a lot of personal progress too. But as a coach I have at some point to decide on something else. Best of luck to Maribor for the the future – I will remain a big fan."
Maribor, who will announce Milanič's successor in the coming days, start their UEFA Champions League campaign in the second qualifying round, having lost to GNK Dinamo Zagreb in the 2012/13 play-offs in their latest bid to match their 1999/2000 group stage appearance.