MUNICH, April 30 (Bundesliga) - Bayern Munich coach Ottmar Hitzfeld has confirmed that he will leave the Bavarian giants after his contract expires in 2005.
On Thursday newspaper reports indicated that Hitzfeld would depart with Bayern eliminated from the Champions League and six points behind leaders Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga.
That met with an angry response from Bayern goalkeeper Oliver Kahn but Hitzfeld confirmed on Friday that he would be moving on.
``It's important that we stick to the conclusion and don't continue to speculate,'' he told journalists at the Sabener Strasse training ground. ``It's better to say: 2005 is definitely the end.
``It was a fantastic time and if and when I actually make it to the end, it will have been an excellent time with fantastic experiences and huge successes.''
Hitzfeld is one of the most successful coaches in European football having led two different teams to the Champions League crown - Borussia Dortmund in 1997 and Bayern in 2001.
Only one other man - the late Austrian Ernst Happel, who guided Feyenoord and Hamburg to similar successes - has achieved that feat.
Hitzfeld dismissed any thoughts that he might be a lame duck coach next season.
``I don't anticipate there being any problems,'' he said. ``The authority is still there after six years so why should it disappear after seven?
``I have a very good, yet quite distant relationship with the team, which is important to earn respect.''
The 55-year-old is likely to be hot property next summer when his availability is circulated around Europe's top leagues, however he hasn't made any thoughts on what he wants to do next.
``It's still a long way off,'' said Hitzfeld. ``A lot can happen, but I don't have any fear for the future as I receive decent offers every year.
``Maybe I'll even take a year off and work as a TV pundit.''
Earlier Kahn had reacted angrily to the reports and expressed his faith in Hitzfeld.
Kahn said: ``FC Bayern couldn't have a better trainer than Ottmar Hitzfeld.
``You've just got to accept that you don't win the title every year. No team in the world can do that.''
Hitzfeld has been linked with several high profile jobs in recent months and has even been touted as a potential future coach of the England national team.
Reports this week have said that Bayern have approached Stuttgart coach Felix Magath about taking the reins when Hitzfeld departs.