Blessing Eleke: Olimpija forward 'begged' for coach to stay

Marko Nikolic
Marko Nikolic previously managed Partizan Belgrade in his native Serbia

Olimpija Ljubljana's Blessing Eleke says he "begged" club president Milan Mandaric not to sack the coach who referred to him as a "black idiot".

Marko Nikolic, 36, agreed to leave the Slovenian leaders after he was caught on video criticising Nigerian Eleke.

The club initially refused to suspend the Serb, but the Slovenian FA banned him for seven games for "clear racism".

"He doesn't mean what he said. He just said it because he was angry," Eleke told BBC World Service.

"I'm very angry and I'm very sad. He's a family man and it's because of me that my coach lost his job. People talk about if he is a racist but I don't think he is like that.

"I have begged and I have done everything but it is the way my president wants it, so I can do nothing."

Olimpija, who are two points clear in the Slovenian top flight, appointed Nikolic earlier this year after he was sacked by Partizan Belgrade in his homeland in 2015.

They drew 1-1 against Zavrc on 10 April thanks to Eleke's first home goal for the club following his January move from league rivals Gorica.

Nikolic said his comment about Eleke was "an emotional reaction" as the 20-year-old's celebration meant there was less time for a winner, adding that he "never intended to offend the player racially".