Dusan Bajevic has quit as coach of AEK Athens for a third time in his career after a string of poor results raised the ire of a large portion of disgruntled fans.
The final act for the 62-year-old as AEK's coach came yesterday when his team suffered a 3-1 away loss to newcomers Olympiakos Volos. The result left AEK in 13th spot in the 16-team Greek Super League on four points from the opening four matches of the season, Bajevic saying his resignation was the "only solution".
Angry AEK fans threw debris, including a broken chair, at Bajevic as he left the pitch after the match. AEK announced that until a new coach is found, former Albanian international midfielder Bledar Kola will take charge. The Athens club faces Zenit St. Petersburg away on Thursday in a UEFA Europa League group phase match.
Things turned sour during pre-season play when angry AEK fans attacked Bajevic after a defeat in a friendly against second-division club Kallithea.
Bajevic has a long history with AEK and as a player he is considered a club legend having helped them to two championships and a Greek Cup during his stay between 1977 and 1981. As a coach, during the course of three stints in charge, he also led them to four championships and one cup victory. He had returned last season and led them to a respectable fourth place finish and a berth in the Europa League.
Switch to Olympiakos
And yet there was a core of discontent within the supporter base that reviles Bajevic with a passion - simply because 14 years ago he left AEK to join bitter arch-rival Olympiakos.
In January 1997 when a Bajevic-led Olympiakos faced AEK for the first time in Athens he was met with a barrage of oranges, eggs and yoghurt thrown by the AEK supporters who had even printed and distributed fake money bearing his portrait.
When Bajevic, who played for Yugoslavia in the 1974 FIFA World Cup™, rejoined AEK in the summer of 2002, some fans greeted him with black flags and banners protesting against his return. During an away match when the team stopped for refreshments, AEK fans pelted him with coffee, sandwiches and chairs.
Bajevic later shocked reporters after a match with OFI Crete in 2003 when he said he had received death threats from angry AEK fans who considered him a traitor. He went on to say that he would "kill anyone who harms my family". His second exit from AEK came in January 2004, his resignation coming after fans began abusing his wife during a match against Iraklis.
After leading Olympiakos to a league and cup double in 2006, Bajevic returned home to Serbia to take charge of Red Star Belgrade. He lasted until March the following year when, with his team trailing 3-0 at home to Vojvodina with 18 minutes to go, he walked off the pitch and out of the stadium, never to return.