Departing Kilmarnock boss Mixu Paatelainen yesterday said his goodbyes to the club as he embarks on the next phase of his managerial career.
The 44-year old tactician has left his post as Killie manager to take the reins with the Finland national team and he admits that he is sad his time at Rugby Park was cut so short.
Paatelainen did a great job with Killie since taking over in June 2010 but will now lead his native country who have had two interim bosses following the departure of Stuart Baxter in November. He sent a message to the club saying he loved his time there and feels he is leaving with the place currently in a strong position.
‘The time I had at Kilmarnock FC was truly enjoyable for me. Unfortunately, it was cut short by an opportunity I could not turn down. Hopefully everyone understands my decision to leave and fulfil one of my dreams of managing my country,’ read his statement on the club’s official website.
‘I want to thank the Chairman, Michael Johnston, and the Management Committee for the solid and continuous support they have given me. I feel that Kilmarnock FC is in the best hands possible.
‘The relative success that we have enjoyed this season has been achieved by team effort. The backroom staff and the players have been a joy to work with every day. Their professionalism has been first class and their company has made me look forward to every day.
‘I also greatly appreciate all the help from the office staff and ground staff throughout my time at Kilmarnock FC.
‘Matchdays were made so much more special for me by the tireless and positive support by the fans, home and away. I thank you for that.
‘Keep supporting - I will!’
Paatelainen’s first game in charge of Finland will be an away clash against San Marino in a Euro2012 qualifier on June 3.