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Stimac's warm farewell to Blue Tigers and football fans...

June 19, 2024 17:10 IST
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Igor Stimac with Sunil Chhetri

IMAGE: Igor Stimac with Sunil Chhetri. Photograph: Kind courtesy AIFF Media

In a warm farewell note, former India football coach Igor Stimac, on Wednesday, said he never expected to be "so personally invested" in the country when he first joined and lauded his wards for their "courage and character".

Stimac, whose contract was terminated on Monday, coached India for five years.

He was sacked after India lost to Qatar in its final second-round group match to bow out of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers.


In a long post on X he wrote: 'To all Indian football fans and my blue tigers, it's been an honour to serve you over the last five years. I didn't expect to form such a strong bond with this country and be so personally invested when I first joined you all.

'I am proud of every player and team member. Together we were able to create an environment of hope and belief, we pushed each other physically and mentally to play fearless, intelligent football, which required a lot of courage and effort. Not just me but the entire country acknowledges the type of game and character you intended to display every time you stepped on the pitch,' he added.

'We were very close to taking the next step but to make that happen, everyone needs to be on board. Not only the players on the pitch and the team staff members but also the ones sitting in the offices,' he asserted.

'FIFA ban, the administrators running the football house, 2 years of pandemic followed by winning 2 SAFF Championships, Intercontinental Cup and the Tri-Nation Cup, taking India back to the Top 100 after a long time and showing how we can compete against stronger teams…

'We had our ups and our downs, but every one of you will always have a special place in my heart. Thank you for all the memories and a wonderful five years. Jai Hind,' the 56-year-old Croat signed off.

On Tuesday, Stimac threatened the AIFF with legal action if it failed to clear his dues in the next 10 days, adding that his stint in India left him with serious health problems.

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