Germany: Bundesliga
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By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Azzouzi fights back tears following relegation: "Hurts when you give so much and it's not enough."

Their relegation from the top flight now official, SpVgg Greuther Fürth sporting director Rachid Azzouzi and squad captain Branimir Hrgota spoke on the pains of coming up short during their respective post-match interviews. 
By all accounts, SpVgg Greuther Fürth sporting director Rachid Azzouzi tried just about everything he could think of to shore up his squad this season. After losing star players like David Raum, Anton Stach, and Paul Jaeckel during the summer after promotion, the Kleeblatt personnel boss fought of a hard-luck injury to Hertha loanee Jessic Ngankam and put together one of the most ambitious late transfer windows of any other Bundesliga clubs last autumn.

It didn't work. The Middle Franconians--winners of just three fixtures this year--were officially relegated from the Bundesliga after losing to Leverkusen at home on Saturday afternoon. Although the Bavarians certainly performed better during the second half of the campaign, the former Fürth player turned executive was left to lament an all-too-brief and oftentimes painful stay in the top flight.

"It hurts," Azzouzi remarked while fighting back tears, "Sometimes you give so much and it's not enough. It took us a bit to find ourselves. We lost a lot of good players. The first half of the season ensured that we didn't have a chance afterwards."

Azzouzi soon pulled himself together and noted that the club would regroup, remain proud, and "face this setback together". One of German football's more respected administrators soon had a smile back on his face.

Whether or not Fürth can hope for a quick comeback hinges significantly on the future association of team captain Branimir Hrgota with the club. The one-time Swedish international remained the beating heart of the squad. Hrgota scored eight goals and chipped in a further five assists for his team this year.

The 29-year-old remains under contract with the Kleeblätter through 2024. His performance back in the top flight, however, will surely leave many teams interested in keeping him there.

"This club has grown very close to my heart," Hrgota noted afterwards, "I've had a nice career here up until now. It could continue, or something else could happen."

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