London - Veteran Dutch coach Dick Advocaat is to step down as head coach of Sunderland days after he ensured they retained their English Premier League status.
The 67-year-old -- who among his many achievements has won league titles in three different countries -- said he had received offers from other clubs but as he approaches his 68th birthday (September 27) he no longer wished to continue in club management.
"Sunderland has been one of the highlights of my career," said Advocaat, who wept tears of joy when Sunderland got the point they required to stay up last Wednesday in the 0-0 draw with Arsenal in their last but one game of the campaign.
"At certain moments in your life you have to make a decision and I am almost 68-years-old now.
"A number of clubs contacted me but the decision was always Sunderland or nobody."
Advocaat, who coached Rangers to two Scottish titles and two Cup successes as well as PSV Eindhoven to a Dutch league crown and Zenit St Petersburg to the Russian championship, replaced Uruguayan Gus Poyet at Sunderland in March with them teetering on the brink of the relegation zone.
However, aside from an opening defeat he oversaw them win three and draw three of their remaining eight games to preserve their elite status.
Sunderland chairman Ellis Short, who has seen his 'Black Cats' flirt with the drop in the past two seasons, said Advocaat -- who coached Zenit to the 2008 UEFA Cup trophy beating his former charges Rangers -- had had an extraordinary dynamising effect on the team.
"Although I am extremely disappointed, I understand and absolutely respect his decision," said Short.
"In his brief time here he made a real impact and lifted the club with his experience and enthusiasm. We will always be grateful to him for what he achieved."
Advocaat's decision doesn't rule him out of a return to the international arena where he is an equally experienced hand having been at the Dutch helm twice and among other countries he has taken charge of include, Russia, Belgium and South Korea.