"He was our teacher not only in football but in life," said Shakhtar Donetsk captain Darijo Srna following Mircea Lucescu's announcement that he is stepping down after 12 years at the helm.
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Following 12 trophy-laden years, Mircea Lucescu has announced that he is stepping down as coach of Shakhtar Donetsk.
Lucescu, 70, won 21 domestic trophies as well as the UEFA Cup during his time in charge. He took over in May 2004 and immediately guided Shakhtar to Ukrainian Cup glory. He announced his departure after leading the Pitmen to that title once more, with a 2-0 win against Zorya Luhansk in Lviv.
Mircea Lucescu in profile
Took over: May 2004
Matches in charge: 573
Ukraine Premier League: 8 (2004/05, 2005/06, 2007/08, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12, 2012/13, 2013/14)
Ukraine Cup: 6 (2003/04, 2007/08, 2010/11, 2011/12, 2012/13, 2015/16)
Ukraine Super Cup: 7 (2005, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)
UEFA Cup: 1 (2008/09)
Ukrainian coach of the year: 8
Shakhtar have gone from also-rans to the elite under Lucescu. As well as the glut of silverware, he has established them as UEFA Champions League regulars (not to mention that UEFA Cup triumph of seven years ago). They reached the UEFA Europa League semi-finals this term.
Most impressive of all has been Lucescu's ability to build new team after new team. "Five or six teams have changed," he said. When defender Dmytro Chygrynskiy was sold to Barcelona in summer 2009, for example, it raised a few eyebrows. Lucescu dealt with it, though, and has since shaken off the departures of high-profile stars such as Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Willian, Fernandinho, Douglas Costa and Alex Teixeira.
"I want to thank everyone who has been with me and the team for the last 12 years," said the Romanian. "I haven't had talks with anyone but tomorrow I will be a free man looking for a new club. I'm proud of what we've done at this club. We have brought in young players who have developed with us and then left for some of Europe's top clubs. The players will always be in my heart."
"This is life, we can't change it," said captain Darijo Srna. "Lucescu is a Shakhtar legend. He lifted the club to the highest level. He was our teacher not only in football but in life. But we have to move on. Now we must learn how to live without Mister."