Bengaluru FC coach Albert Roca will step down from his position at the end of the 2017/18 season, the Indian Super League club announced on Thursday, May 17.
The Spanish tactician decided not to renew his initial two-year deal, which ends on May 31, due to personal reasons.
Roca, who joined the club at the start of 2016/17 season has helped Bengaluru FC maintain their dominance in the country despite not winning an I-League or an ISL title.
Under the former Barcelona assistant coach's guidance, Bengaluru FC became the first Indian football team to reach the final of AFC Cup in 2016. The Bengaluru-based franchise also won the Federation Cup in 2017 and the Super Cup in 2018.
The former I-League champions eased into ISL and reached the final in their debut season. With 40 points, a record tally, and 13 wins, BFC finished on top of the league table.
As recently as Wednesday, May 16, Roca oversaw Bengaluru FC's win over Abahani Dhaka in their final group game of AFC Cup 2018, which saw them qualify for the inter-zonal semi-final of the second-tier continental competition.
"It was one of the toughest decisions I have had to make in my managerial career but it's the right one. Bengaluru FC has been an experience I will always carry with me, no matter where I go," Roca said, as quoted by an official statement.
He added: "The owners, the management, my staff, players and most importantly, the fans walked with me every step of this journey and I can never forget the love and support I have received here. I will miss being on the touchline for this club, but will always follow its progress."
Roca, according to The Times of India, has been finding it difficult to stay away from his family in Spain for longer periods. The 55-year-old has a heavy workload, unlike other ISL managers, due to Bengaluru FC's AFC Cup commitments.
Passionate Bengaluru FC fans had reportedly urged Roca to continue as the coach during the side's final home game of the season — AFC Cup tie against Aizawl on May 2.
Sunil Chhetri, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu pay tribute to Roca
Bengaluru FC captain Sunil Chhetri and custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu took to Twitter, minutes after the announcement was made, to thank their coach.
"Thank you, mister! One of the best managers I've played under and an even better human being. @bengalurufc and Indian Football will miss you!" Chhetri wrote.
I’ve played under some great coaches in my career so far and I can promise you that you have been one of the best and among the most brilliant human beings I’ve ever come across. Thank you @RocaDT_Oficial for raising the level of Indian Football. #GraciasRoca pic.twitter.com/g7AgYFGiZ5— Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (@GurpreetGK) May 17, 2018