Likely to retire if Real fire him

ROME - Fabio Capello, who guided Real Madrid to the Spanish league title on Sunday, could quit coaching altogether if the club decides to sack him.

ROME - Fabio Capello, who guided Real Madrid to the Spanish league title on Sunday, could quit coaching altogether if the club decides to sack him.

The 61-year-old, who has coached AC Milan and Juventus in Serie A, still has two years left on his Real contract, but his future is far from assured given his fractious relationship with the club's president, Ramon Calderon.

Asked what he would do if Real show him the door, Capello told the Gazzetta dello Sport: "I've already coached the best teams, so I could quit two years early."

Capello said his chances of staying with Real, whom he also helped win the Spanish title in the 1996-97 season, were 50-50.

"It's on the toss of a coin," he said. "All I know is that I would like to stay here to win the Champions League. I have already booked my flight [back to Spain] to return on July 19, because training starts on the 20th."

It seems unimaginable that Calderon would even consider replacing Capello after the Italian engineered a success that seemed unlikely three months ago. With 11 weeks of the season to go, Real were lying five points adrift of Barcelona. But an unbeaten run since then saw them grab La Liga from under the noses of their bitter rivals.

After Real's 3-1 win over Real Mallorca on Sunday Capello confirmed he would be having talks with Calderon this week about his future.

"I want to carry on, but that doesn't depend on me and I've got to talk to the president."

If Capello does leave in the summer, he will not be the first Real coach to be shown the door after a stunning success.

German coach Jupp Heynckes was sacked just days after Real won the Champions League in 1998. And Vicente Del Bosque, mooted as a possible successor to Capello, did not have his contract renewed in the summer of 2003 despite leading Real to two Champions Leagues and two La Liga titles in his four years in charge. - Sapa-AFP

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