Belgrade, December 18 (uefa.com) - Ljubisa Tumbakovic described today as "the worst of my life" after the most successful coach in Yugoslavian football
history stood down after almost a decade in charge of FK
The 52-year-old was appointed coach of the Belgrade club in
June 1992 and, save for a brief hiatus at AEK Athens FC in
the 1999/00 season, has been the driving force behind a
club which has won six Prva Savezna Liga championships and
three Yugoslavian Cups during his time at the helm.
Tumbakovic told uefa.com last
month that "Partizan is my life" and
breaking such a bond obviously
proved immensely difficult for one of
the most respected coaches in
European football. Speaking at an
emotional press conference,
Tumbakovic said: "Enough is
enough. I don't have the energy to continue working.
"Ten years is a long time, especially as I have given 100 per
cent throughout. Now I shall go home as I have plans with
my family. I am very happy that I have spent so many
beautiful years at Partizan. My contract lasts until June 2003,
but we made a deal in June that I could leave after the first
half of the championship."
Partizan were in the doldrums when
Tumbakovic took control, 300 wins in
406 matches later he leaves the club
nine points clear in the Yugoslavian
top flight and well on course for a
seventh title in a decade. Partizan
director Nenad Bjekovic said: "We
understand Tumbakovic's wishes and accept his resignation.
We have won so many championships but I believe we will
still be successful in the future."
Despite dominating domestically, though, Partizan have
struggled to make an impression in Europe and were
eliminated in this season's UEFA Cup second round by SK
Slavia Praha 6-4 on aggregate after winning the first leg 3-1.
With a tear in his eye, the departing Tumbakovic concluded:
"Please don't ask me what my plans are. I just want to enjoy
a beautiful holiday."