Toulouse (France) (AFP) – Russia coach Leonid Slutsky said he will quit to let someone else run the 2018 World Cup hosts’ national team as he apologised for their failure at Euro 2016.
After a campaign tainted by football hooliganism, Russia dropped out of the European Championship finals following defeats by Slovakia and Wales.
“I take responsibility. I had enough time to find players. If we did not succeed it is truly my mistake,” Slutsky said after watching his side taken apart in a 3-0 defeat by Wales on Monday.
The result left Russia bottom of Group B. Following troubles at the their first match against England in Marseille, Russia had been threatened with expulsion from the tournament if fans caused more stadium unrest.
“Someone else should take over with a big championship to come,” Slutsky added, referring to the looming World Cup.
“I would like to apologise to the Russian supporters for our performances, and to the fans in the stadium and watching at home on TV; they did not deserve this,” he added.
Slutsky, 45, did not say when his resignation would become effective. But he was bound to face pressure over the result with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin treating the hosting of the 2018 World Cup as a national prestige event.
Slutsky only took over last August after Italian Fabio Capello was sacked with the country’s Euro qualification at risk.
Slutsky has remained the coach of Russian champions CSKA Moscow, a job he has held since 2009.
Russia won his first five matches in charge and harboured hopes of making an impression even in the first group game against England when a last minute goal secured a 1-1 draw.
Slutsky said that qualifying for Euro 2016 had still be a “positive” experience and that the younger players in the squad should still be the core of the team for 2018.
His rise to become the national coach followed heartbreak as a player.
Born in the southern city of Volgograd, he became a goalkeeper and signed with a local team on leaving school.
After only 13 games, fate ended his career at the age of 19. A neighbour asked him to get her cat down from a tree. He fell, shattered a knee and spent a year in hospital.
Slutsky flung himself into football management, gaining a degree from a coaching academy and taking over a youth team where he immediately stamped his tough love style on young players.
“I put a lot of pressure on the footballers. There were very strict rules and draconian controls,” Slutsky recalled in an interview with Sovietsky Sport.
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