Soccer / Maccabi Tel Aviv's Oscar Garcia Quits Champion

'I am doing it at the best time for the club,' says coach, citing personal reasons for his surprise resignation.

After one successful season at the helm, head coach Oscar Garcia announced on Wednesday that he is leaving Maccabi Tel Aviv. According to the club, Garcia cited “personal reasons” for his resignation.

“This has been one of the best sporting experiences of my career,” Garcia wrote on the club’s website Wednesday. “Various circumstances in my life that outweigh professional considerations have forced me to take this sudden decision. I am doing it at the right time for the club. This is, apparently, the best time to leave without disturbing the preparations for next season in everything regarding taking decisions relating to the players and coaching staff.”

Garcia had plenty of praise for both the team’s staff and its fans, to whom he turned on a personal level: “Right now I don’t know whether I will coach a team next season. Even though I was only here for one season, I wish to thank the people of Israel who welcomed me from the first moment and treated me well, and turned my time here into a perfect experience. I am sure that this wonderful club will enjoy many good years in the future, and hope and believe that I will return one day, whenever Maccabi needs me.”

“We had a most successful season with Oscar,” the club’s general manager, Jordi Cruyff, told the website. “It will be difficult for all the fans to hear that he is leaving. To win the Premier League title in your first year in such a convincing fashion is no simple task. As one who knows Oscar so well and for so long, I never had any doubt that he could succeed in achieving his targets. Oscar will always be part of the history of Maccabi Tel Aviv, and I’m sure the fans will look back at his term and take pride that he began his professional coaching career in yellow and blue.”

Taken by surprise

Cruyff added that the club will do its best to find a suitable replacement. “We are looking for a candidate to inherit the strong team. The coaching staff will remain at the club at this stage,” he is quoted as saying.

Club officials were taken by surprise by the decision. But sources close to the Spaniard say that he has found it difficult to be so far from his family. In the past two weeks Cruyff has begun searching for a replacement, in parallel to preparing the squad for next season. The general manager wants to hook another Spanish coach, but is also eyeing two Dutch coaches.

Regarding the playing squad for the coming campaign, Cruyff has taken the strategic decision to first complete any signings of Israeli players before looking at overseas players. He hopes to speed us negotiations for the transfer of Beitar Jerusalem midfielder Avi Reikan, Bnei Yehuda midfielder Oz Raly and striker Itai Schechter from Welsh Premiership side Swansea. He is also said to be interested in Beitar Jerusalem goalkeeper Ariel Harush. Of the overseas players in last season’s squad, Cruyff wants to retain Spanish midfielder Carlos Garcia and Swedish striker Rade Prica.

Nir Keidar