AEK Athens coach Fernando Santos has resigned 24 hours after leading the club into the UEFA Champions League.
'A clear conscience'
At a press conference today, the Portuguese confirmed recent speculation by announcing that he was quitting AEK after just one season in charge. "My contract was expiring, we talked about a renewal but could not reach an agreement," he said. "I leave with a clear conscience."
No common ground
Santos's departure will dismay fans at the Nikos Goumas stadium, who yesterday begged him to stay during the home game against FC PAOK Thessaloniki. The coach had the following message for them: "Coaches come and go, but clubs are there forever. The only thing I can say is that we could not find a common ground with the board."
While Santos refused to give reasons for his decision, he was known to have a stormy relationship with the AEK owner Makis Psomiadis. He had threatened to leave in January, only to be persuaded otherwise by a supporters' group who camped outside his house.
"I will never forget the support of the fans when things were tough," Santos continued. "But I have told Mr Psomiadis and the players that tomorrow will be my last training session at the club. I will return to Portugal next Saturday and wait and see what comes along."
Santos took AEK to the verge of a league and cup double. They beat Olympiakos Piraeus FC in the Greek Cup final but were then pipped to the Hellenic National League title by the same opponents - by virtue of Olympiakos's better head-to-head record. Yesterday they had to settle for second place and entry to the Champions League with a 6-2 thrashing of PAOK.
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