Lithuania coach Algimantas Liubinskas has quit his job to concentrate on campaigning for a seat in parliament, the Baltic state's football federation announced on Monday.
In a statement on its website, the Lithuanian federation said Liubinskas had officially handed in his resignation, ending weeks of speculation about his future after pressure from the country's footballing body. Liubinskas, 56, said he regretted having been forced to choose between his sporting career and political future.
"I will try to continue to work for the development of football, and for sport as a whole" from the benches of parliament if elected in the 12 October parliamentary polls, he told fans' website futbolas.lt.
Liubinskas' political choice is far from uncontroversial: he is standing for the populist Order and Justice Party, which is lead by Lithuania's impeached former president, Rolandas Paksas. Liubinskas began his football career in the 1970s as a player with Vilnius side Zalgiris and in the 1980s managed the club in what was then the Soviet league. He has been at the helm of Lithuania twice.
He was Lithuania's first coach after 1992, when they returned to international football a year after the country regained its independence following five decades of Soviet rule. In 1995 he went back to club football following a spat with the federation, and coached sides in Lithuania and neighbouring Poland before returning to the national fold in 2002 as Under-21 coach.
He got back the job of steering the senior side in 2003, and oversaw two notable feats by the European minnows when they held Germany to a 1-1 draw during qualification for UEFA EURO 2004 and managed the same score against Italy ahead of EURO 2008.
The federation said several potential replacements for Liubinskas were in the frame, but did not reveal their names.
Lithuania, who currently stand 59th in world governing body FIFA's national team ranking, are due to play a friendly against Moldova on 20 August, before kicking off their campaign for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ against Romania on 6 September.
Their other Group 7 opponents are Austria, France, the Faroe Islands and Serbia.