Former Netherlands great Marco van Basten stepped down as coach of AZ Alkmaar only five matches into his first season with the Dutch club, saying Tuesday he has long struggled to cope with the pressures of coaching.
Van Basten, known for his clinical finishing on the field during his playing days with AC Milan, said he has tried hard to adjust to the stress involved with coaching. He previously coached the Dutch national team, Ajax and Heerenveen.
''I worked hard at it, because I find being a coach a great and interesting job,'' the 49-year-old Van Basten said. ''I tried to put this off for as long as possible, but you reach a point where you say, 'This is something that keeps coming back too often,' and then you have to make a choice.''
That choice was to quit and become an assistant to AZ's new coach, most likely Van Basten's former assistant, Alex Pastoor.
In a statement, Van Basten said that working as a head coach ''is more and more often causing me physical and mental problems,'' and that he wants to work out of the limelight.
Club director Earnest Stewart, the former United States national team midfielder, said Van Basten will now concentrate on developing young talent at the club, which is 12th in the 18-team Dutch league.
Stewart said the club is talking to Pastoor about becoming head coach.
Van Basten joined AZ Alkmaar this season, but went on leave this month with undisclosed health problems. Dutch media reported he had stress-related heart palpitations.
It is not the first time Van Basten has quit.
The former AC Milan striker coached the Netherlands from 2004-08, leaving after the team was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the 2008 European Championship by Russia. He also coached Ajax from 2008 until he resigned in 2009, saying he didn't consider himself good enough for the job.
''What I bring to Ajax is not enough,'' Van Basten said when he announced his decision in 2009. ''Ajax deserves better than what I have achieved this year. My qualities are not enough to make the difference next year with this group.''
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