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Petkovic steps down as Swiss coach after seven years

Leaving on a high note: Petkovic at this summer's Euro2020. Keystone / Gian Ehrenzeller

Vladimir Petkovic has left the national football team to join French club Bordeaux. Petkovic was the most successful coach in the country’s history.

This content was published on July 28, 2021 - 10:00
Keystone-SDA/AP/Reuters/dos

Following a few days of media speculation, the Swiss Football Association confirmed the departure late on Tuesday.

“We are sad that [Petkovic] is leaving us, but we are very grateful to Vlado for the extremely good and successful seven years he has given us as a national coach,” Swiss FA president Dominique Blanc said in a statement.

During his time in charge, the Swiss national team qualified for every edition of the World Cup and European Championships.

Petkovic’s tenure peaked last month with a win over world champion France in the round of 16 at Euro 2020. In a spectacular game in Bucharest, Switzerland came from 3-1 down in the closing minutes to force – and then win – a penalty shootout.

In the quarter-finals, Switzerland then also brought Spain to extra time before losing on penalties. It was the first time they had got so far in a major tournament since 1954.

Most successful

Sarajevo-born Petkovic took over from Ottmar Hitzfeld as Swiss coach after the 2014 World Cup. With 78 games at the helm (42 wins, 15 draws, 21 defeats), the 57-year-old goes down as the most prolific and most successful Swiss football manager in history.

Petkovic was under contract until the end of 2022, should the Swiss team qualify for the World Cup in Qatar. The details of the severance deal – which will see Bordeaux pay some sort of settlement to the Swiss FA – have not been disclosed.

Switzerland next plays European champion Italy at home on September 5 in their qualifying group for the 2022 World Cup. Only the group winner advances directly to the tournament in Qatar; the runner-up goes to a playoff round in March.

“I want to thank the directors of the Swiss FA for having agreed to my request, and for freeing me to take on this new challenge,” said Petkovic. “It was seven wonderful years that I will never forget.”

Bordeaux said Petkovic signed a three-year contract with the team, which finished mid-table in France’s Ligue 1 last season.

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