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Hickersberger resigns from Austrian post

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 23 Jun 2008

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Josef Hickersberger announced his retirement as Austrian coach in an interview to be published on Tuesday which will appear on the day that the Austrian federation were to decide on his future.

The 60-year-old tells daily newspaper 'Der Standard' that he feels exhausted after coaching co-hosts Austria at Euro 2008 where they bowed out in the first round with just one point and having scored one goal.

“I am stopping … I feel empty and tired, I need to take a break and recharge the batteries,” said Hickersberger, who was in his second spell as coach after leading them to the 1990 World Cup finals but resigning later that year after a Euro '92 qualifier defeat by the Faroe Islands.

“The chapter is closed. My mission has been accomplished. I have reflected long and hard.”

Hickersberger, who was part of the Austrian squad that recorded one of the finest moments in their footballing history when they beat then world champions West Germany 3-2 in the 1978 World Cup, had originally indicated he would like to stay on.

However, he tells 'Der Standard' that he made that statement under pressure from the players. He had also received in the immediate aftermath of the last match the support of Friedrich Stickler, the president of the federation, who said he had 'raised Austrian football to another level'.

Hickersberger, who replaced another hero of the 1978 victory Hans Krankl as coach in January 2006, was credited by many with at least minimising the defeats of the Austrians in the tournament, as they had entered it as the lowest ranked team ever to play in them.

Hickersberger expressed his wish that the rejuvenation of the team that he started would continue and that he would not be averse to returning to coaching at club level.

However, he was scathing about his and German coach Joachim Loew's being banished by the referee to the stands during their group match.

“They treat us like circus bears. I don't want to be a circus bear anymore.”

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