BERLIN, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Christoph Daum, whose cocaine use cost him the national coaching job in 2000, has agreed to coach second division side Cologne after repeatedly spurning his former club's offer to give him a second chance in Germany.
Cologne director of football Michael Meier said on Sunday that Daum, who had been ostracised in Germany since he went on trial for cocaine possession and agreed to pay a fine to have the charges dropped, had signed a contract to June 2010.
It was an astonishing change of heart from Daum who had been linked with Cologne over the last fortnight and had said no to two previous offers, citing health reasons. Daum, who lives in a Cologne villa, is recovering from throat surgery.
After facing heavy criticism in German newspapers for spurning Cologne, amid speculation that he was waiting for an offer from a Bundesliga club such as Schalke 04 or Hamburg SV, Daum abruptly changed his mind and accepted Cologne's offer.
'I listened to my heart,' Daum was quoted as saying on Sunday.
Cologne, Germany's fourth largest city, has been absorbed by a media frenzy for the last two weeks about whether Daum would take over the team relegated from the first division in June.
Cologne's mayor appealed to Daum to take the job and 17,000 fans registered support for him in an online survey.
Meier said Daum had signed a 3-1/2-year contract without any clause that would let him out of the agreement before June 2010.
German media reported that he would receive 2.5 million euros per year. He was given another week to recover from the surgery and will report for duty on Nov. 26, with his first match on Dec. 4 when Cologne host MSV Duisburg.
Cologne announced Daum's return to German football after they were beaten by TSV 1860 Munich 2-1 on Sunday, a defeat that left them in 10th place in the second division and eight points away from the third place needed for promotion.
Daum had already coached Cologne, long a Bundesliga powerhouse before slipping in recent years, between 1986 and 1990.
He won the Bundesliga championship with VfB Stuttgart in 1992 before coming close twice with Bayer Leverkusen.
'I kept having doubts because I didn't feel comfortable with my first decision,' Daum was quoted as telling the Cologne Express newspaper in an interview to appear on Monday.
In 2000, a positive test for cocaine use prevented him from taking up his appointment as the German national team coach.
In 2002, Daum answered charges of conspiring to purchase 100 grammes of cocaine and illegally using the drug on 63 occasions.
He had the proceedings against him dropped in a seven-month trial when he agreed to donate 10,000 euros to a social programme. The German Football Association (DFB) had said before the trial that he would lose his licence if he were convicted.
Under German law, certain court actions can be stopped with the payment of a fine. The fine covered the 12 cases of illegal possession of cocaine that Daum admitted to. He was declared not guilty in the 51 other cases.
After the scandal erupted in 2000, Daum was dismissed as Bayer Leverkusen coach and ruled out as the next Germany coach.
Daum then returned to Besiktas, the Istanbul club he had coached from 1994 to 1996. The DFB appointed caretaker national coach Rudi Voeller on a permanent basis after discarding Daum, who had been due to take over from Voeller in 2001.
'Daum is one of the best coaches in the world and can help any club he takes over,' said DFB president Theo Zwanziger.
'But he made a mistake. Nevertheless, I'm convinced he deserves a second chance. But he needs to work with credibility. He's not quite there yet.'
Daum stepped down as coach of Turkish side Fenerbahce after the 2006 season, in which he led them to second place in the league after winning the club's 16th league title the previous season.