Dick Advocaat has turned down the chance to extend his stay at Sunderland after going ahead with his plans to retire from club football.
Advocaat tonight confirmed to Sunderland’s hierarchy that he was rejecting the opportunity to stay at the Stadium of Light, despite being offered a two-year deal to take charge of the Black Cats.
Sunderland were desperate to keep hold of the 67-year-old after he had fulfilled his remit of keeping the club in the Premier League.
But after speaking with family after Sunday’s final game of the season at Chelsea, Advocaat has decided to return to his native Holland, although he is open to returning to international management.
“At certain moments in your life you have to make a decision and I am almost 68 years old now,” said Advocaat.
“A number of clubs contacted me but the decision was always Sunderland or nobody.
“I would like to thank the chairman, Lee (Congerton, sporting director) the staff and of course the fans.
“We gave everything in our time there and achieved what we set out to. Sunderland has been one of the highlights of my career.”
Advocaat had originally made Sunderland well-aware of his plans to retire this summer after agreeing a two-month contract to succeed the sacked Gus Poyet last March.
But as Sunderland began to progress under his stewardship, Advocaat was left in two-minds over whether to prolong his stay at the club.
The wishes of his wife were always a stumbling block though and both chairman Ellis Short and Congerton began to fear the worst over the weekend.
“Although I am extremely disappointed, I understand and absolutely respect his decision,” said Short.
“In his brief time here he made a real impact and lifted the club with his experience and enthusiasm. We will always be grateful to him for what he achieved.”
Congerton added: “I know it was a tough decision for Dick to make but he felt that he couldn’t commit to the intense rigours of club management on a longer-term basis and we respect his honesty.
“In his short time here he was fantastic to work with. He had and will continue to have the utmost respect of everyone here at Sunderland.
“I would like to sincerely thank him, along with his assistant Bert van Lingen and coach Zeljko Petrovic for the hard work and dedication they showed in the last two months and they leave with the very best wishes of everyone at the club for their achievements.”