Three days after lauding the future of Mexican soccer, Javier Aguirre said he wasn’t sticking around to be a part of it.
Aguirre appeared before a packed news conference in Mexico City on Wednesday to announce he was stepping down as coach of the Mexican national team, which bowed out of the World Cup in the second round for the fifth time in as many tries.
“The first person responsible is me. I believe that I have to resign my job,” Aguirre said. “It’s the most honest solution, the fairest and it’s something I have to do.”
The news was no surprise. Aguirre caused a stir in Mexico in February when, during an interview, he spoke in vulgar terms about the country and its narcotics-fueled crime rate, saying that was why he was leaving his family in Europe.
Aguirre was forced to make a public apology and it appeared clear then he would not be asked to return despite the remarkable job he did in getting Mexico to the World Cup.
Aguirre, who coached Mexico to the second round of the World Cup in 2002 and who played for Mexico in the 1986 tournament, took over 15 months ago with the team in danger of failing to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 28 years. But he immediately turned things around and three months later Mexico beat the U.S., 5-0, in East Rutherford, N.J., to win the Gold Cup.
Mexico’s fifth coach since the last World Cup, Aguirre’s annual salary was rumored to be nearly $4 million which, if true, would have made him the third-highest-paid national team coach in the world.
Aguirre, whose last two jobs were with Spanish club teams Osasuna and Atletico de Madrid, has said he’d like to return to Europe.
One of the possible choices within Mexico to replace Aguirre will be former Club America coach Jesus “Chucho” Ramirez because the core of the national team is made up of players Ramirez guided to the 2005 U-17 world title.
But with the World Cup drawing to a close, several big-name foreign coaches figure to become available in the coming weeks and Mexico may well decide to wait.