Rudi Voeller has resigned as coach of the German national team, after last night’s defeat to the Czech Republic, condemned his team to a first round from Euro 2004.

Germany failed to qualify for the knockout stages from Group D and, despite insisting immediately after the game that he intended to carry on, his resignation was made public this morning.

“After long consideration, I have decided to step down,” the 44 year-old former Germany striker confirmed.

“I have the feeling that only someone who is untarnished and has a certain credibility – like I had four years ago – can do the job over the next two years,” he added.

Voeller revealed his decision to the German FA overnight, who had asked the coach not to make a snap decision.

“He told us that it was not a spur-of-the-moment decision taken just after the game,” said German Football Federation President Gerhard Mayer-Vorfelder.

“We regret his decision very much, but we have to accept it,” he continued.

Voeller became coach of Germany, in succession to Erich Ribbeck, after a dismal Euro 2000 campaign saw the Germans fail to win a single match.

Part of Germany’s World-Cup winning side in 1990, Voeller survived the humiliation of a 5-1 home defeat to England in the 2002 World Cup qualifying campaign before leading his team unexpectedly to the final ten months later, where they lost to Brazil.

Voeller blamed his team’s poor finishing for their exit from the tournament yesterday. In three group matches they managed just two goals, and squandered numerous chances in last night’s defeat.

“Only in the second half did we play the way I wanted,” Voeller said after the game.

“The only thing missing was the goals. We only scored two goals in the whole tournament, and that simply isn’t enough,” he concluded.

The German FA will now seek a replacement for Voeller, somebody who will be able to rebuild the side and also the nation’s faith in the team during the run up to the 2006 World Cup, which will be staged in Germany.

Former Bayern Munich coach Ottmar Hitzfeld has already been touted as the favourite for the job. The two time European Cup winning manager was sacked by Bayern at the end of last season