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FOOTBALL

Burnout forces Rangnick to quit as Schalke coach

Schalke 04 coach Ralf Rangnick said he was resigning his post at the Bundesliga side due on Thursday to extreme burnout syndrome.

Burnout forces Rangnick to quit as Schalke coach
Photo: DPA

The 53-year-old Rangnick quit Schalke with immediate effect on his own terms after just six months in charge. He was the second German league coach to part company with his club after Hamburg sacked coach Michael Oenning on Monday.

For Saturday’s home Bundesliga game against Freiburg, assistant coaches Josef Eichkorn and Markus Gisdol have stepped in for the interim until a replacement is found.

“After long and careful consideration, I have come to the conclusion that I need a break,” said Rangnick on Schalke’s web page.

“I found it incredibly hard to make a decision like this, but my current energy levels are not high enough to succeed and in particular to advance the team and the club. I am taking this step for the benefit of the team, who I wish every success for the rest of the season.”

Schalke’s general manager Horst Heldt said the news had taken the club by surprise, but they respected the decision after Rangnick admitted suffering from disturbed sleep, restlessness and poor appetite, especially in the last two weeks.

“It pulled the ground from under our feet, because the signs were not recognisable,” said Heldt.

Schalke’s chief executive officer Clemens Tönnies echoed that the news had come ‘like a lightning strike’ and the Royal Blues did not yet have a successor in mind.

Having come to Schalke just two months after leaving Hoffenheim in January, Rangnick has taken few breaks from football since 2005 and Schalke’s team doctor Thorsten Rarreck said the coach had done the right thing.

“He realised enough is enough. He has had a killer job for the last five years, if he had taken a four- or five-month break, perhaps this wouldn’t have happened,” said Rarreck.

“This is very brave of him. I know lots of people who in the same situation would have thought they have to go on. It will take him a few months to recover, but unlike depression, burnout is reversible.”

President of the German Football Federation (DFB) Theo Zwanziger said Rangnick’s decision shows things have changed slightly in Germany since the tragic suicide of goalkeeper Robert Enke in November 2009 after suffering from depression.

“Perhaps the situation in the hard world of professional football has changed a little bit after all the discussions surrounding the tragic death of Robert Enke,” Zwanziger told daily Bild.

Rangnick took over as Schalke boss on March 17 after the Royal Blues sacked Felix Magath, who is now coach of 2009 champions VfL Wolfsburg.

AFP/mry

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FOOTBALL

Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

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