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Soccer-Leverkusen extend deal with coach Schmidt to 2019

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BERLIN, May 21 (Reuters) - Bayer Leverkusen have extended coach Roger Schmidt's contract by three years to 2019 despite missing out on automatic Champions League qualification, the Bundesliga club said on Thursday.

Schmidt was a surprise choice when he took over in April 2014 but his exciting brand of attacking football quickly won over many fans in his first full season in charge.

"Roger Schmidt managed in the very first year of our cooperation to meet our sporting hopes and expectations," said club CEO Michael Schade in a statement.

"The open, attractive game of our team has his handwriting. Leverkusen now represent a style that is noticed nationally and internationally."

Leverkusen remained in fourth place after losing 3-0 to direct rivals Borussia Moenchengladbach earlier this month and will compete in the Champions League playoff round.

The 48-year-old Schmidt joined Leverkusen from Austria's Salzburg who he led to the league title having previosuly coached lower-tier German clubs.

"During this first year it quickly became clear that Leverkusen is a club where I can and want to work over a longer period of time," said Schmidt.

"We are at the start of a development and have a young team that has great potential and a superb team spirit." (Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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