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Vissel Kobe on Tuesday announced the resignation of manager Thorsten Fink, who has opted to return to his family in Germany.

The 52-year-old arrived at Noevir Stadium midway through the tumultuous 2019 season, helping to steady the club on the way toward its historic first-ever Emperor’s Cup title on New Year’s Day.

Kobe doubled its trophy collection by beating J1 champion Yokohama F. Marinos in February’s Fuji Xerox Super Cup.

“It it not easy to say goodbye to this city, this team or these supporters… but I have decided to return to my family,” Fink said in a statement released by Kobe.

“I still believe the team can achieve good results in the league and the Asian Champions League, and I wish the club the best of luck.”

Vissel manager Thorsten Fink gestures during a J. League first-division match against Frontale on Sept. 9 in Kawasaki. | KYODO
Vissel manager Thorsten Fink gestures during a J. League first-division match against Frontale on Sept. 9 in Kawasaki. | KYODO

Vissel has struggled this season, taking just 20 points from 19 games. The side, which is captained by legendary Spanish midfielder Andres Iniesta, currently sits 12th in the J1 table, a seemingly insurmountable 27 points below current leader Kawasaki Frontale.

Vissel has already been eliminated from the Levain Cup, but leads its ACL group with two wins from two games played.

Fink managed a record of 14 wins, 11 draws and 14 losses in the J1.

Kobe officials did not immediately name a replacement, but speculation quickly centered on former Samurai Blue head coach Javier Aguirre as a potential candidate.

Spanish newspaper Marca reported on Sunday that the Mexican tactician was considering offers from both the J. League and Major League Soccer.

Vissel also announced the departure of Fink’s coaching staff including assistant coaches Sebastian Hahn and Masaki Morass as well as physical coach Nikola Vidovic.

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