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Schaaf steps down as Bremen coach

Thomas Schaaf has stepped down as coach of Werder Bremen after 14 years in the role, the club announced on Wednesday.

Schaaf, 52, has spent his entire professional career at the club, first as a player and then working his way up through the age groups as a coach before taking the main job in 1999.

"Werder Bremen and head coach Thomas Schaaf have agreed to part ways," a club statement read. "That was the result of talks between the management and the long-standing coach of the green-and-whites on Tuesday.

"Schaaf, who has controlled the sporting fate at the Weserstadion for 14 years, has said goodbye to his players and coaching staff early on Wednesday morning and left his office."

Schaaf took the club to several triumphs during his tenure. In 2004, Bremen won the domestic double with a side featuring Johan Micoud, Ivan Klasnic, Ailton, Nelson Valdez, Valerien Ismael, Frank Baumann and Simon Rolfes. But his fortunes slowly began to decline and in 2010-11 - the season after Mesut Ozil had left for Real Madrid - Bremen finished 13th in Bundesliga, missing out on Europe for the first time in many years.

This season his long-time partnership with general manager Klaus Allofs broke down, with Allofs making the subsequent switch to league rivals Wolfsburg during the first half of the season.

A miserable second half of the campaign left Werder Bremen fighting to avoid relegation until last weekend. Bremen have not won any of their last 12 Bundesliga games and have won only 34 points all season.

"I had an extraordinary time, connected with several positive experiences and great successes," Schaaf is quoted in the press release. "I want to thank everyone who has supported and accompanied me throughout those years. I wish Werder Bremen a successful future."

In total during Schaaf's reign of 644 games as Bremen boss, the club qualified for Champions League six times, won one German championship and three German cups. "As announced we have analysed our situation in the past day and have come to the conclusion we want to go for a fresh start," general manager Thomas Eichin said. "We thank Thomas for everything he has brought into the club in over 40 years of membership as a player or coach. With him the club was able to celebrate outstanding sporting successes, he has embodied Werder.

"After the major effort of avoiding relegation our shared believe is that parting way and a fresh beginning is the best option."

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