Marcello Lippi, the legendary 70-year-old Italian coach, left China on Tuesday as his contract as the national head coach ended after the AFC Asian Cup tour.
Lippi boarded a plane from an airport in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, without giving a press conference.
The Chinese Football Association named Lippi coach of China's national team in 2016 after China suffered a four-game losing run in the last stage of the Asian Zone qualifying campaign.
During his 829 days as China's head coach, he led the national team to compete in 30 games, scoring 10 wins, nine draws and 11 defeats, bringing both joy and sadness to millions of Chinese fans.
With an annual salary of 20 million euros, Lippi was expected to be a game changer in China’s football campaign. The under-22 players led by his assistant Massimiliano Maddaloni failed to make progress in the Asian Games and Asian Youth Games, a blow to Lippi’s football development strategy.
Lippi has impressed Chinese fans with his team’s improvement, especially in their fighting spirit. However, the team suffers from an age issue with a player average of nearly 29.
"It has been a very huge honor for me to coach such an important national team for such an important country like China," said the World Cup-winning coach after tournament favorites Iran beat China 3-0 in the Asian Cup quarterfinal.
Lippi said he was disappointed that his team conceded all three goals due to defensive errors. "Our players did their best during the tournament, but tonight, I don't want to say 'thank you' to them," Lippi added.