Felix Magath, coach of current Bundesliga leaders Wolfsburg, will join rivals Schalke at the end of the season, he has confirmed. The Wolves had earlier announced the 55-year-old will leave them on 23 May, and hours later Schalke confirmed he will take on the dual role of team manager and coach for them next season.
Neither the lure of taking Wolfsburg into the UEFA Champions League for the first time, nor leading them to their first Bundesliga title - imminent with his side three points clear with four games remaining - could tempt Magath to stay. And after speculation first flew around the German media last week, Magath admitted he was revealed to finally make his future plans known - albeit poorly timed with his current side chasing the league title.
"I am glad that the decision is finally out, even if I am not really happy about the circumstances," said Magath in a press conference in Wolfsburg, whom he took charge of in the summer of 2007. "After discussions with Wolfsburg's supervisory board, we had already decided week ago I would leave, but I regret the timing."
Magath told the Wolfsburg squad this morning and said he will leave with his head held high. "I believe there are good reasons behind my decision," he said. "From my point of view, the goals which I agreed on at the beginning of my commitment with Wolfsburg's board have been reached.
"It was planned to take the team to a higher level and nobody thought we would achieve that within two years. I don't believe someone can work in professional football, on a long-term basis, based on promises. And I was fortunate to get a good start to my time here."
The former Bayern Munich coach has agreed a four-year contract at Schalke, and said he will leave Wolfsburg in rude health having used the early exit clause in his contract. Magath will take over from both Dutch coach Fred Rutten and team manager Andreas Muller, who were sacked earlier this year.
"We have already reached our sporting targets substantially faster than we planned in the summer of 2007 when I took charge," added Magath. "This team is young and is bound to develop more in the future."
Magath has steered Wolfsburg to the top of the Bundesliga this term, while Schalke are up to seventh in the table after an indifferent season.
Hans-Dieter Poetsch, chairman of Wolfsburg's board, paid tribute to his work. "We would like to offer our thanks to Mr Magath for his help over the last two years and for his extraordinary achievement in such a short period of time," he said.
Magath was sacked by Bayern in February 2007, despite leading them to the Bundesliga and German Cup double in both of the two seasons before.