Ex-Liverpool star Albert Riera has quit as manager of Slovenian outfit Olimpija.
Liverpool cult hero Albert Riera has surprisingly quit as manager of Slovenian outfit NK Olimpija Ljubljana despite winning a league and cup double in his first season. The former winger’s side won the Prva Liga for the first time since 2017/18 but that was not enough to convince their head coach to remain.
Riera’s first press conference was reportedly disrupted by angry fans protesting against the ownership of the club. However, the Spaniard remained in charge and enjoyed great success, clinching the Slovenian top-flight at the end of April.
Olimpia then defeated Maribor to win the Slovenian Cup on May 6, winning a dramatic final against nine men thanks to a penalty 10 minutes into added time in extra time. But Riera has since decided to quit, posting a farewell message on his Instagram page.
“Thanks @nkolimpija for this opportunity. I couldn’t ask for more, first year as head coach and [we] win league and cup. Champions of both cups in Slovenia,” Riera said.
“I gave all my knowledge, energy, passion and professionality until the last day. Special thanks to the players, you are the main [characters] of this history. I still remember my first day, first speech, my promise was only one, to improve all of you and I leave feeling proud. Don’t forget to smile and enjoy.
“And to the fans, without you the football has not sensed your support and power. Always I would say that my history started here, with the dragons, and from now on you have a fan and supporter for the rest of our lives.
“Wishing you all the best and [a] bright future. Now it’s time for me to find another motivation and adventure.”
In a clear hint that his decision was based on internal politics, Riera told local Slovenian media that he would not allow anyone to ‘interfere’ with his coaching.
He supposedly told Sport Klub: “I know what I can control as a coach. These are my players. This worked for me all year. I did not allow anyone to interfere in my decisions.
“Anyone who knows me knows that that’s just how I work, I’m the one who makes the decisions, but it seems like it was my mistake. In Slovenia, winning [trophies] is obviously a bad thing and you are no longer a coach.”
Riera scored five goals in 56 appearances for Liverpool between 2008 and 2010. He also spent time on loan at Manchester City and, later in his career, enjoyed a short-lived spell in the Championship with Watford.
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