BILBAO (Reuters) - Athletic Bilbao coach Jose “Cuco” Zidanda will leave at the end of the season after a disappointing campaign which has left them on course for their lowest La Liga finish in 11 seasons, the club said on Thursday.
“This situation causes us pain but the interests of the club are above everything,” club president Josu Urrutia said at a news conference.
A former coach of the club’s reserve team Bilbao Athletic, Ziganda was promoted to first-team coach last year when Ernesto Valverde left for Barcelona.
Valverde secured European football at Bilbao in each of his four seasons there but Ziganda’s side lie 14th in the standings with two games remaining in the campaign.
They have secured survival but unless they overhaul 13th-placed Alaves they will record their lowest finish in the top flight since coming 17th in 2006/07.
“I felt strong enough to continue but I understand this decision,” said Ziganda.
“I leave feeling proud and grateful to have been at such a unique club.”
Athletic, who select only players with ties to the Basque country, have won eight Liga titles and 23 King’s Cups and are the only team, other than Real Madrid and Barcelona, never to have been relegated.
According to reports in the Spanish media, former Sevilla and Celta Vigo coach Eduardo Berizzo is the frontrunner to succeed Ziganda.
Reporting by Richard Martin,; Editing by Neville Dalton