Crook quits following rumours of bust-up

Norwich City legend Ian Crook has left Sydney FC amid rumours of a rift with coach Terry Butcher. Crook, who was among the favourites to replace Nigel Worthington when he was sacked by the Canaries, has left Sydney to link up with his former boss Pierre Littbarski as assistant at Japan's second-division J-League outfit Avispa Fukuoka.

Norwich City legend Ian Crook has left Sydney FC amid rumours of a rift with coach Terry Butcher.

Crook, who was among the favourites to replace Nigel Worthington when he was sacked by the Canaries, has left Sydney to link up with his former boss Pierre Littbarski as assistant at Japan's second-division J-League outfit Avispa Fukuoka.

Former City star Crook spent the last few months of his stay at Sydney with the club's youth team after Butcher reportedly ousted him from the first team's training sessions.

The relationship between the pair deteriorated when Sydney FC shareholder and actor Anthony LaPaglia called for Butcher to be sacked earlier this season to make way for Crook.


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LaPaglia had openly criticized Butcher's tactics and blamed low attendances on the former England captain's brand of football. However, when the shareholder's campaign to install Crook failed, a wedge had been driven between the pair making the former City star's position untenable.

Sydney chief executive George Perry, having consistently denied any bad-blood between the two, said the club simply didn't want to stand in the way of the Crook's lucrative move to Japan.

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“He leaves Sydney FC with the gratitude and best wishes from the board and the coaching and administrative staff," Perry said in a statement released by the club.

“Ian Crook was part of the original team at Sydney FC and has been a great contributor to the club generally.”

Crook did not comment on his relationship with Butcher but said he didn't want to leave the club on bad terms.

“At the end of the day, I don't want to leave here with people sort of going around and saying that sort of stuff (about a rift),” he said.

“We're both sort of pretty passionate towards things and this is an opportunity for me that I didn't feel I could turn down.

“We had a working relationship and we were both trying to do the best for Sydney FC.”

Crook added that he cannot wait to join forces once again with Littbarski, with whom he led Sydney to the A-League title.

“Obviously I learned a lot from him last year and hopefully I can learn some more,” he said.

“It's another opportunity for me to improve my coaching skills overseas.”

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