Jose Mourinho, the outstanding candidate to the next England manager, has ruled himself out of the running to be Steve McClaren's successor.
The former Chelsea manager said the job would have been 'fantastic' but he had decided to remove himself from the list of candidates 'after deep and serious thinking'.
It is understood Mourinho is in line for the coach's job at one of the leading continental club sides, but his decision leaves the Football Association with something of a headache to decide who to pursue from the four remaining candidates - Fabio Capello, Marcello Lippi, Martin O'Neill and Jurgen Klinsmann.
Mourinho had been the clear favourite to become the next England manager and had held initial talks with FA executives Brian Barwick and Sir Trevor Brooking.
The 44-year-old's commitment to taking the job was always in question though, something that was confirmed today.
Mourinho said in a statement: 'After Steve McClaren left the England football team, my representatives maintained contact with the FA.
'In that sense, I had myself useful discussions with Brian Barwick and Trevor where we exchanged ideas to evaluate the entire situation about the England squad and set the goals in case of real invitation being addressed to me.
'After deep and serious thinking, I decided to exclude myself from being England manager despite it being a fantastic position for me.
'I'm sure FA will hire a great manager, one able to place the team back where it belongs.
'I reiterate my respect for English football and, after three good years in England, I firmly believe that the England squad will soon be back to their usual great results.'
Mourinho was the only candidate who ticked all the boxes - he is a 'world-class' coach, something that Barwick has told FA board members he will find; he knew the English game and he spoke the language fluently.
The two Italians, Capello and Lippi, can also be regarded as world class - especially Lippi who is already a World Cup winner from last year - but both have rudimentary English, something can could be a big factor.
O'Neill's claims now look increasingly strong - even though he has said publicly he wants to stay at Aston Villa, he has not told the FA that he is unavailable.
The fourth option is Klinsmann, who has limited managerial experience but won plaudits as coach of the Germany side that reached the semi-finals of the World Cup last year.
Klinsmann has some knowledge of English football from his time at Spurs and speaks the language well, but lived in California while Germany coach - a situation he would need to change if he was to be offered the job.
Barwick, the FA's chief executive, has now finished consulting the 12 leading figures in the English game about the appointment and, despite Mourinho's announcement, he and Brooking are hopeful of having the name of the next England manager in time for the next FA board meeting on December 19, just nine days away.