MADRID, May 26 (Reuters) - Ernesto Valverde quit as coach of Espanyol on Monday after two years at the helm, saying it was the best for all concerned.
The 44-year-old Spaniard joined in 2006 and led the Barcelona-based side to the UEFA Cup final without losing a game in 2007, where they drew 2-2 with Sevilla, but lost in the penalty shootout.
They made an impressive start to last season and at the midway point were challenging for a place in the Champions League after losing only three of their opening 19 games.
But they suffered a spectacular collapse in the second half of the Primera Liga campaign losing 13 of their remaining 19, to end up 12th in the standings, amidst vociferous protests from their fans.
'They have been two marvellous years ... but the atmosphere around the team isn't the best, and this decision is the best for me and the club,' Valverde, who had a year left to run on his contract, told a news conference.
Espanyol president Daniel Sanchez Llibre said: 'He took the decision. He doesn't have another team and we haven't spoken to anyone else as a replacement. When someone thinks his mission is over, you have to respect it.'