Hagi named new Galatasaray coach

* Hagi in second spell as Galatasaray coach

* Tugay Kerimoglu appointed as his assistant

* Rijkaard left after disappointing start to season

(Adds details, background and byline)

By Daren Butler

ISTANBUL, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Galatasaray named Gheorghe Hagi, the Romanian who led them to UEFA Cup glory as a player, to replace Frank Rijkaard as their new coach on Thursday.

In a surprise move, the Istanbul club appointed Hagi to a second spell as technical director even though he has spent the last three years out of management. Former Turkey international Tugay Kerimoglu would be his assistant, the club said.

The former UEFA Cup winners parted company with Dutchman Rijkaard after a bad start to the season. They are ninth in the Turkish championship after eight games, eight points adrift of leaders Bursaspor.

Hagi previously coached Galatasaray in 2004-2005, when he led them to victory in the Turkish Cup. He resigned at the end of that season, when they finished third, complaining about a lack of support from the club's directors.

"Gheorge Hagi has been appointed technical director of Galatasaray...with Tugay Kerimoglu as his assistant," the club said in a statement on their website (www.galatasaray.org).

They said the contract would be signed at a ceremony on Friday but gave no details of the deal.

Kerimoglu is well loved at Galatasaray, having spent more than a decade there as a player, before a move to Rangers and then a long, successful spell at Blackburn, where he ended his career in 2009.


During an illustrious career, Hagi won 125 international caps, played for Real Madrid and Barcelona and had a key role in the Galatasaray team which won a string of league titles and the UEFA Cup in 2000.

His coach during that period at Galatasaray was Fatih Terim who turned down an offer to take over from Rijkaard, according to media reports on Wednesday.

Hagi has had a chequered career as a coach, with short spells at a series of clubs in Turkey and Romania.

His last soccer assignment was in 2007 when he coached Steaua Bucharest for less than three months. Since then he has focused mostly on the hotel business.

Nicknamed "The King," Hagi won Romania's all-time greatest soccer player award in 2000. Last year he founded a soccer academy on the outskirts of the Black Sea city of Constanta.

Rijkaard's contract was terminated on Wednesday by mutual agreement. The Galatasaray board met earlier in the week to discuss the club's poor start to the season after Saturday's 4-2 home defeat by Ankaragucu.

On the Istanbul stock exchange shares in Galatasaray, which rose following news of Rijkaard's departure, fell 1.4 percent on Thursday after Hagi's appointment.

The Romanian's arrival comes ahead of a key derby for the 17-times Turkish champions against Istanbul rivals Fenerbahce on Sunday.

Galatasaray are due to start playing next year at the new 53,000-capacity Turk Telekom Arena stadium, marking the end of a long era at the decrepit Ali Sami Yen ground.

(Additional reporting by Radu Marinas in Bucharest; Editing by Clare Fallon; To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com))