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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 June, 2004, 08:03 GMT 09:03 UK
Voeller quits Germany role

Germany coach Rudi Voeller
Germany coach Rudi Voeller has resigned after his team's early exit from the European Championship in Portugal.

His side were eliminated from the Euro 2004 tournament following a 2-1 defeat to the Czech Republic on Wednesday.

Voeller had insisted he wanted to stay after the defeat, but the former World Cup-winning striker changed his mind.

"After long consideration, I have decided to step down," said Voeller, who had a contract until the World Cup in 2006 which will be held in Germany.

The 44-year-old Voeller said the national side needed a new start before the 2006 World Cup.

"I have the feeling that only someone who is untarnished and has a certain credibility - like I had four years ago - can do the job over the next two years," he said.

Voeller told team officials overnight and they asked him not to make a hasty decision.

"He told us it was not a spur-of-the-moment decision taken just after the game. We regret this decision very much but we have to accept it," said German federation president Gerhard Mayer-Vorfelder.

We did our best but it wasn't enough
Michael Ballack
Germany needed to beat the Czech Republic in their final Group D game.

But despite the Czechs resting the majority of their side Germany went down 2-1.

"It wasn't their first team and we still couldn't do it. We just didn't have enough," Voeller said.

"We were close in all three games, although we didn't always play at the top level. We also lacked luck.

"This cannot be compared to the debacle four years ago. We had our chances but it's disappointing to lose against a second-string Czech team. Despite all the dedication, it was not enough.

"The president was surprised and wanted me to remain but I told him that it wouldn't work," Voeller added.

"We nearly won the World Cup two years ago and that will remain unforgettable.

"I will neither sulk nor emigrate. I'll certainly take some time off now but I will definitely continue to support the team from the stands."

Voeller had hoped to lead Germany into the World Cup on home soil in two years' time.

He was part of Germany's World-Cup winning side in 1990.

He took over as Germany coach from Erich Ribbeck following a disastrous Euro 2000 - when Germany failed to win a match.

He guided his country to the 2002 World Cup final before losing to Brazil in the final.

Germany struggled to qualify for Euro 2004 and suffered a poor run-up to the tournament including a 5-1 thrashing by Romania.

The leading candidate to replace Voeller is believed to be Ottmar Hitzfeld, who was sacked as Bayern Munich coach at the end of last season.

Vorfelder added: "It is clear that the name of Ottmar Hitzfeld will figure in our thinking."

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