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By ESPN Staff

St Pauli confirm Stanislawski to quit

An emotional St Pauli coach Holger Stanislawski announced on Wednesday that he will be leaving the club in the summer after almost two decades on the pay roll.

The 41-year-old has decided to walk away after 18 years of service, saying it was "time for a change''.

"These last few years have taken a lot out of me,'' he added at a press conference. "I don't feel I am able to do justice to this club anymore.''

Stanislawski was unable to hold back the tears as he met the media after an equally emotional announcement on his club's website heralded the end of an 18-year bond. He first joined St Pauli in 1993 and he played a total of 260 matches for them before injury forced him to retire in 2004.

He then held various positions at the club, including vice-president, director of sport and, since 2006, head coach, leading them to promotion to the second division in his first year in charge and then back into the top flight last season.

St Pauli are currently second from the bottom of the table with five games of the season remaining, and bidding to avoid an immediate return to the second division. The club had also been bidding to hold onto Stanislawski, even in the event of relegation.

"They made me a lucrative offer, but I wanted to find a new challenge,'' explained 'Stani', as he is affectionately known. St Pauli's director of sport Helmut Schulte said: " It is a very sad day on which we have lost our frontman.''

Stanislawski is expected to be appointed as the new coach of Bundesliga rivals Hoffenheim from next season after they announced on Tuesday that Marco Pezzaiuoli's contract would be terminated in the summer.

Hoffenheim owner Dietmar Hopp also confirmed that Stanislawski is the "favourite'' for the position. "Stanislawski is a favourite, but I cannot say whether he will come,'' he told the Mannheimer Morgen newspaper. "He is always passionate about his team and is a coach who looks after his players.''

That does not appear to have been the case with Pezzaiuoli, on the other hand. "Maybe he was just too inexperienced,'' Hopp said. "The sporting situation is unsatisfactory and there have also been criticism (about Pezzaiuoli) from within the team.''

Pezzaiuoli took over on January 1 when Ralf Rangnick left the club after five years in charge. He was given a contract until the end of the season with the option for an additional year, but that option will not be taken since he has not managed to "bring the necessary fire to the team'', according to Hopp.

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