Fans in tears as Renato quits Gremio

RIO DE JANEIRO - Former Brazil striker Renato Portaluppi and fans were in tears on Thursday as he quit his beloved club Gremio after poor results this year.

Renato resigned from Gremio, the club he inspired to the South American and world club titles in 1983 as a player, after 10 months in charge.

The 48-year-old steered Gremio clear of relegation last year and up to fourth place to qualify for the 2011 Libertadores Cup.

However, this year Gremio lost the southern Gaucho (Rio Grande do Sul) state championship final in May to arch-rivals Internacional and were eliminated in the first knockout round of South America's elite club competition.

Renato handed in his resignation after a 2-2 draw at home to Avai in the Brazilian championship on Wednesday and confirmed his decision on Thursday despite a demonstration of support from Gremio fans outside the club.

"Above all, I'm a 'gremista' like them. I learnt to love this club," Renato, fighting back the tears, told reporters.

"When I accepted this challenge last year it's because I wanted to see Gremio at the top again. I hope the next trainer can carry the task forward."

As Renato drove out of the club, his car was surrounded by a multitude of fans, many of them in tears over their idol's departure.