Sundhage steps down as US women's football coach following double Olympic triumph
Sunday, 02 September 2012
September 2 - United States women's football coach Pia Sundhage, who led the country to a third successive Olympic gold medal in London this summer, is stepping down to return to her native Sweden.
The 52-year-old (pictured top) announced she would leave to become the new Swedish women's boss just before the US began an Olympic "victory tour" with a game against Costa Rica, which the hosts won 8-0, in Rochester, New York.
Sundhage took over as the American coach in 2007, leading the States to victory in Beijing 2008 – to follow its maiden triumph under April Heinrichs at Athens 2004 – and then at London 2012.
The US won its latest Olympic gold with a 2-1 win over Japan, exacting revenge for defeat to the same nation in the World Cup final of 2011.
Sundhage took charge of 104 matches for the US, winning a remarkable 88.
Her contract expires on November 30 and the Swedish Football Association has confirmed she will succeed Thomas Dennerby – who resigned as coach last month after eight years in the post – the following day.
"I have long dreamed of becoming Sweden coach and now I am so happy," Sundhage said.
"I want to thank all the players and all my assistant coaches for making me better.
"Before I took this [US] job, I always admired the spirit and character of the US team, but to experience that first hand on the training field and from the bench as coach was truly special and something I will treasure for the rest of my life."
Sundhage will complete her tenure with two games against Australia later this month before bringing down the curtain with a clash with Germany in October.
The US will now begin its search for Sundhage's replacement to lead the country to the World Cup in Canada in three years' time.
Sundhage enjoyed a glorious playing career with the Swedish international side, winning the European Championships in 1984 and a bronze medal at the 1991 World Cup while making 146 appearances and scoring 71 goals between 1975 and 1996.
She has previously coached the Swedish Under-19 team, as well as being a former assistant-manager of China.
Sweden reached the quarter-finals of this year's Olympics before losing to France, but will be one of the favourites to win the European Championships it hosts in 2013.
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