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Former Dutch coach Knobel dies aged 89

ROTTERDAM, May 6 (Reuters) - Former Netherlands soccer coach George Knobel, who took the side to third place in the 1976 European Championship, died on Saturday aged 89, one of his former clubs Ajax Amsterdam said in a statement.

Knobel coached Ajax during the 1973-74 season but was sacked before it ended when he said in an interview that the club, who had been European champions in 1971, 1972 and 1973, would be relegated through "booze and women".

In fact they finished the season in third place behind Feyenoord and Twente after being Dutch champions for the previous two seasons.

Although he was not at Ajax for long, Knobel oversaw a 6-1 aggregate victory over AC Milan in the European Supercup that season when Ajax overturned a 1-0 defeat in the first leg to beat Milan 6-0 at home.

Knobel took over the Dutch side after they finished as runners-up to West Germany in the 1974 World Cup final and led them to third place in the Euros in the former Yugoslavia two years later.

Although they lost 3-1 to eventual champions Czechoslovakia in the semi-final, they beat host nation Yugoslavia 3-2 in Zagreb in the playoff and that remained their best showing in the tournament until they won it in 1988.

He also had spells as the coach of MVV, Roosendaal, Beerschot in Belgium and in Hong Kong. (Editing by Mike Collett)