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Former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas says he is “safe and well” but disappointed after being forced to withdraw from the Dakar Rally following a crash that left him hospitalised with a back injury.

The Overdrive Toyota driver, making his debut in the event, hit a dune during the 330 kilometre San Juan de Marcona stage in Peru on Tuesday and his dream of finishing the most grueling off-road endurance race ended.

The Portuguese coach said in a post on Instagram: “Just to tell everyone that both me and (copilot) Ruben (Faria) are safe and well and back in the bivouac. We jumped off a dune and crashed the car nose first. The Dakar unfortunately is finished for us. Better luck next time! Thank you all for your kind messages of support.”

Overdrive Racing Team praised the 40-year-old and said on Instagram: “Hope to see you back soon @avbdakar! Thanks for your professionalism.”

There were concerns regarding Villas-Boas’ health after Overdrive team director Jean-Marc Fortin said earlier on Tuesday that the ex-Porto manager had to be taken to hospital.

Fortin told Belgium newspaper HLN: “Andre was taken to the hospital with a back injury. It was unfortunate for Andre, who was making a very positive debut in the Dakar.”

Villas-Boas spoke last week of his decision to compete in the Dakar Rally, a race his uncle also took part in for the first time at the age of 40 in 1982, before considering returning to coaching in Europe once the season is over.

He said as reported in Marca: “To finish the Dakar would be like winning a football trophy. Racing is my passion.

“Everything happened very fast because when I finished at Shanghai it was mid-November and it was then when I decided that if there was a window open to compete in the Dakar I would take it because I want to return to football in June.”

Villas-Boas began to prepare for the Dakar after stepping down as coach of Chinese Super League side Shanghai SIPG on Nov. 30.

He steered SIPG to second in the Chinese Super League last season and to the semi-finals of the AFC Champions League in his first year in charge, before being replaced by compatriot Vitor Pereira.

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