The coach who led Greece to a remarkable upset in winning the European Championship will stay for two more years despite calls for him to coach his native Germany.

Otto Rehhagel "will honor his contract," Vassilis Gagatsis, head of the Greek soccer federation, said yesterday. "We are not considering any other scenario."

Gagatsis said Rehhagel, 65, had turned down an offer to remain coach until 2008.

"He told me that he would be too old and didn't want to go to the soccer field in a wheelchair," Gagatsis said.

Rehhagel, who is vacationing in Germany, has become a national hero in Greece and has been offered Greek citizenship. He was cheered by hundreds of thousands of fans who lined the streets of Athens on Monday in a homecoming celebration.

Rehhagel extended his contract with Greece shortly before Euro 2004 in Portugal. He has made no public statements about his future since Greece's triumph.

"He is one of us," Gagatsis said. "He believed in the Greeks and . . . gave the players the wings they needed to win. All Greeks thank him for what he has done. He had the ability to X-ray our opponents and read them well."

Pressure has been growing in Germany to hire Rehhagel before the country hosts the 2006 World Cup. The coach's position has been vacant since Germany was eliminated from Euro 2004 group play.

German officials have confirmed Rehhagel is a candidate for the top job.

-- From News Serivces