Reja stands down as Lazio coach

Edy Reja has decided to step down as Lazio coach – despite guiding the club into the Europa League for a second successive season.

The Rome-based club finished fourth, just two points behind Udinese, who have qualified for the Champions League play-off round.

Reja twice tried to walk away from Lazio this season but was persuaded to stay by president Claudio Lotito on both occasions.

But the 66-year-old would not be denied a third time and hinted that he may have stayed at the Stadio Olimpico had he managed to guide Lazio into the Champions League positions.

"My adventure at Lazio ends here," he told "President Lotito gave me his support and asked me to stay on.

"Even after my refusal, he invited me to reconsider and take a week to reflect. But I had already made my decision.

"It seems as if we have not done anything these past two years, even though we twice qualified for the Europa League.

"Of course, if we had hit our target of qualifying for the Champions League this year, things would have been different.

"We had several injuries, which made the season difficult, but it hurts to think that fourth place seems to be worthless.

"In addition the bid to strengthen in January went badly. After the transfer window, I found myself without five or six regulars because of drawn-out transfer negotiations which were never concluded."

Chelsea’s interim boss Roberto Di Matteo, who played for Lazio between 1993-6 1996, and former Blues and Italy striker Gianfranco Zola are the early front-runners for the vacant hotseat.