|Serbia head coach Dusan Ivkovic has announced his retirement from the national team, despite his players wishing for him to remain|
A five-year long journey came to an end on Tuesday for legendary tactician Dusan Ivkovic, who confirmed his decision to step down as head coach of the Serbian national team.
The announcement came just three days after Serbia completed their EuroBasket 2013 campaign by finishing in seventh place and securing the last direct qualification spot from Europe to the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2014.
"It was time for a new, younger team coach to take over Serbia," Ivkovic said at a press conference in Belgrade.
"I could do this with great pleasure and challenge in the future, but it would be better for a younger coach to do it," added the veteran tactician, who turns 70 in October.
"I was doing this job as a volunteer and with pleasure and I will never regret doing it.
"I turned down club offers, one was of three million, but this was my greatest pleasure."
In the wake of Serbia's victory over Italy in the game for seventh place in Ljubljana last Saturday, guard Nemanja Nedovic had admitted publicly that both himself and the rest of his teammates on the youthful national team were hoping that Ivkovic would stay in charge.
"The team has secured the future, has gained tremendous experience and will not need to participate in qualification for Ukraine [EuroBasket 2015]," Ivkovic said.
"I see no difference in whether we finished the competition as the fourth or the seventh , or the difference with the team of Croatia (who finished in fourth place) and we had a lot of debutants in a big tournaments on the team."
The multi-winning coach was handed the reins of the national team in 2008 and immediately led Serbia to a surprise silver medal at EuroBasket 2009 and the World Championship the following year.
Ivkovic was the man at the helm of Yugoslavia during the late 1980's and early 90's, when the country underwent the political transition that saw it split into six separate nations.
During that first stint on the bench of a national team, Ivkovic steered Yugoslavia to EuroBasket gold in 1989, 1991 and 1995, before spending the next 13 years working exclusively at club level.
Serbian federation vice-president Dejan Bodiroga stated meanwhile that finding a new coach will not commence before KSS has completed its reports and analysis of EuroBasket 2013.
"We have a lot of young coaches and if I am asked, I will have suggestions [to the federation]," Ivkovic said on the subject.
"We have time to think about it and should not be hasty."