By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) – An emotional and apologetic Sam Allardyce headed for the airport on Wednesday, blaming entrapment for his shock exit as England manager but recognizing that an error of judgment had led to his downfall.
The 61-year-old, who told reporters outside his home in northern England that he was going abroad “to chill out and reflect”, refused to rule out an eventual return to soccer.
“Who knows? We’ll wait and see,” he said.
Blasted by the media for hubris and greed, Allardyce was shown the door by England on Tuesday for seeking a lucrative sideline role while talking to undercover reporters from Britain’s Daily Telegraph.
The paper said it had hundreds of pages of transcripts from the meeting in which ‘Big Sam’ had discussed a deal worth 400,000 pounds ($520,000) to represent a Far East firm seeking advice on the transfer market.
Allardyce, an old-school manager famed for helping unfashionable clubs avoid relegation, said it had been a “silly thing” to do but he had been trying to do a favor for someone he had known for 30 years.
“Unfortunately it was an error in judgment on my behalf. I have paid the consequences,” he said.
“Entrapment has won on this occasion and I have to accept that. I’ve apologized to (the Football Association) and all concerned.”
Allardyce, who replaced Roy Hodgson after England’s dismal Euro 2016 campaign, said it had been a great honor to be appointed in July.
The former center half recognized in an earlier statement that he had made comments which had caused embarrassment to the FA and others.
A glance at the morning’s newspapers will have given him little comfort, with scant sympathy and lashings of scorn for a manager that ex-FA chairman Greg Dyke said had been ‘grubbing around’ for money.
“I didn’t think England could stoop any lower from what happened in the summer at the Euros,” commented former England striker Alan Shearer. “Now here we are, a laughing stock of world football.”
Allardyce won his only game in charge of England, a World Cup qualifier in Slovakia earlier this month, by 1-0. He will be replaced by under-21 coach Gareth Southgate for the next four matches as the FA searches for a successor.
“I’m going to go away and reflect on it. I’d like to wish all the England lads, Gareth, and the staff all the very best,” he said, telling reporters that he could say no more due to a confidentiality agreement with the FA.
(Reporting by Michael Holden in London and Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by Estelle Shirbon and Dominic Evans)