By Chris Burke
AJ Auxerre's veteran coach Guy Roux has announced his decision to retire, just one day after leading his side to their fourth French Cup title.
One of the most highly-regarded figures in European football, the 66-year-old steps down after a long and distinguished career with Auxerre, the club he first took charge of as a player-manager in 1961. "I've decided to stop. I've been thinking about it for a few weeks now and over the past few years I've been looking for the right moment to call it a day," he said. "All the lights are green, the team has had a good season and the finances are stable."
Roux's eventual replacement will lead the Burgundy outfit into Europe next season after they beat CS Sedan-Ardennes 2-1 in the French Cup final yesterday, booking themselves a place in the UEFA Cup. It was Roux's fourth cup success following wins in 1993, 1996 and 2003, a feat that took him level in the record books with LOSC Lille Métropole legend André Cheuva. He also coached Auxerre to the Ligue 1 title in 1996, having masterminded the club's ascension from regional football when he took over.
Likewise, the side prospered in Europe during his rein, enjoying 16 seasons of continental competition and reaching the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup in 1993, plus a quarter-final finish in the UEFA Champions League in 1997. Health problems plagued his later years in the post, however, and after an initial retirement during the 2000/01 campaign, he underwent a heart by-pass operation in 2001. "I'd hoped Guy would stay on for another year, but he's decided to anticipate the decision of his doctors and I respect his choice," said Auxerre president Jean-Claude Hamel.
Famed for his offbeat sense of humour and a keen eye for young talent, Roux also turned the club's youth academy into one of the most respected on the continent, producing players of the calibre of Djibril Cissé, Philippe Mexès, Jean-Alain Boumsong and Olivier Kapo in recent years. He said of retirement: "The first year is going to be terrible. But we'll be seeing if I can take on another role at the club. I'll carry on as a [television] consultant and I'll be stepping up my involvement in charity organisations, so I'll definitely be keeping myself busy."
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