Crook quits

FORMER Norwich star and one-time Ipswich signing Ian Crook has left Sydney FC - amid rumours of a bust-up with head coach and Town legend Terry Butcher.

By Mel Henderson

FORMER Norwich star and one-time Ipswich signing Ian Crook has left Sydney FC - amid rumours of a bust-up with head coach and Town legend Terry Butcher.

Crook, who was among the favourites to replace Nigel Worthington when he was sacked by the Canaries, has linked up with former boss Pierre Littbarski at Japanese club Avispa Fukuoka, who play in the second division of the J-League.

Former City star Crook spent the last few months of his stay in Australia 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 part-owner and actor Anthony LaPaglia called for Butcher to be sacked earlier this season to make way for Crook.

LaPaglia had openly criticised Butcher's tactics and blamed low attendances on the former England captain's brand of football.

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However, when the celebrity shareholder's campaign to install Crook failed, a wedge had been driven between the pair that made 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 Crook's lucrative move to Japan.

In a club statement, Perry said: “He leaves Sydney FC with the gratitude and best wishes from the board and the coaching and administrative staff.

“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),” said Crook.

“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.

Sydney are currently unbeaten in nine games, a run that sees them closing in on second spot in the table despite the blow of being docked three points, along with a fine of 129,000 Australian dollars, for breaching salary cap rules.

It was in June 1996 that Crook famously signed for Town after being released by the Canaries, only to dramatically change his mind and return to Carrow Road, an about-turn that cost him an FA fine.

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