Football: Clemente steps down

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The Independent Online
JAVIER CLEMENTE, the Spanish national coach, announced his resignation yesterday, five days after his team's embarrassing 3-2 defeat by Cyprus in a Euro 2000 qualifying match.

Clemente, who survived calls for him to step down earlier this summer after his team's unexpected first-round exit from the World Cup in France, bowed to mounting pressure this time and said he was leaving the job.

"We have reached a bilateral agreement to end my contract," Clemente said after meeting Spanish Football Federation officials. "This decision has been made for the good of the players and Spanish football," he added.

The resignation was a dramatic U-turn for Clemente, who had insisted all week that he had no intention of leaving. The chorus of calls for Clemente's resignation had been getting louder, however. Such was the uproar that even the Education and Culture Minister, Esperanza Aguirre, said the Spanish Federation had to "take measures."

Clemente took over in 1992 from Vicente Miera after Spain's failure to qualify for the European Championship finals in Sweden.

The combative Basque coach - in charge for a total of 62 games, including two World Cup finals (and the disappointing first round exit from France 98) - had two years remaining on his contract.

Jose Antonio Camacho, who resigned as Real Madrid's coach in July after just days in the job, is considered the favourite to replace Clemente.

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