Coach Ange Postecoglou announced on Wednesday that he will not take Australia to the World Cup next year, ending weeks of speculation about his future after a lengthy qualification campaign.
“After a great deal of thought and soul-searching, I’ve decided that the journey for me ends as Socceroo coach,” an emotional Postecoglou told a press conference in Sydney.
“It’s been the biggest privilege of my life and probably not the ending I had envisaged when we started, but at the same time, knowing it’s the right time for me and the right decision,” he said.
In recent weeks the Australian had refused to confirm or deny reports that he would quit even if the Socceroos qualified for Russia 2018, only saying he would meet with Football Federation Australia officials this week.
FFA chief executive David Gallup said he was “disappointed and I guess still a bit puzzled, but I’m supportive of the notion that sometimes you reach a point where you just know that you need to do something new”.
“As for the process going forward, we won’t be rushed,” he added, sitting alongside Postecoglou.
“The Socceroos have a big gap in the calendar now, and it’s important that we get the right person to fill the big shoes,” he said.
Australia reached their fourth-straight World Cup in Sydney last week after defeating Honduras in a 3-1 aggregate play-off victory in the qualifiers.
Greek-born Postecoglou, 52, who migrated to Australia as a five-year-old, was flung into the coaching hot seat just months before the last World Cup.
He was given a five-year contract by the FFA after the sacking of German Holger Osieck and became the Socceroos’ first full-time Australian coach in nine years.
He had won two A-League championships with Brisbane Roar and gained a reputation for fast-paced, aggressive, passing football.