Fernando Santos is no longer the coach of Portugal following their exit from the 2022 FIFA World Cup at the hands of Morocco. The Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) announced this decision on Thursday, stating that it was time for a change after eight years with Santos in charge.
Santos led Portugal to an incredible run at last year’s World Cup, culminating in their first-ever triumph in a major tournament when they won Euro 2016.
However, things didn’t go as well for them this time, and Morocco eliminated them despite being favorites in the match. This sealed Santos’ fate, and he parted ways with his compatriots.
Fernando Santos has had a long and successful career in coaching, with spells in charge of several top European clubs and the Greek national team.
However, his work with Portugal has arguably brought him the most acclaim. In 2014, he was appointed manager of the Portugal national team and quickly led them to their first-ever senior international title when they won Euro 2016. He then repeated the feat by claiming victory in UEFA Nations League 2019.
Santos has displayed tactical expertise and an ability to get the best out of his players while fostering a strong sense of togetherness within teams, which has been key to both of Portugal’s recent successes.
However, a shocking 1-0 loss to Morocco marked the end of his career in Qatar 2022. His contract covered the 2024 European Championship.
“The Portuguese Football Federation and Fernando Santos agreed to end the highly successful journey that began in September 2014,” read the FPF.
“After one of the best participations ever by the National Team in the final stages of the World cup in Qatar, FPF and Fernando Santos understand that this is the right time to start a new cycle.
“The FPF Board will now begin the process of choosing the next national coach.”
Santos described coaching Portugal as a “life goal” and a “dream come true” in a heartfelt video message.
“When you lead groups, you have to make some difficult decisions,” he added. “It’s normal that not everyone was happy with the choices I made but the decision I took were always thinking about what would be best for our team.”
Santos’ decision to bench top player Cristiano Ronaldo for Portugal’s round of 16 match against Switzerland caused controversy when it was announced in Qatar.
Santos’ decision supported Bin any replacement Goncalo Ramos’ hat trick in a 6-1 victory after Ronaldo made it apparent that he was disgruntled over being substituted in the previous game against South Korea.
Ronaldo again started the match against Morocco on the bench, and Santos only added him early in the second half when Portugal surprisingly lost. After that, Santos said he didn’t regret his choice.
“I don’t think so, no regrets,” Santos said. “I think this was a team which played very well against Switzerland. Cristiano Ronaldo is a great player, he came in when we thought it was necessary, so no regrets.
If we take two persons that were most upset it is Cristiano Ronaldo and myself. Of course we are upset, but that is part of the job of the coach and the player.”
Santos spoke about his own future at the time: “I reiterate what I said before the competition, I have a discussion with the president and when we go back to Portugal we will deal with the issue of my contract.”
Who will be Portugal’s new Coach?
It remains to be seen who will take over as Portugal’s new coach, but whoever it is will have a tough act to follow, given what Santos has achieved during his tenure.
Several contenders have been linked with the role. Lille manager Paulo Fonseca has been mentioned as a potential candidate, along with national under-21 coach Rui Jorge and AS Roma manager Jose Mourinho.
When asked by reporters about possible replacements for the outgoing coach, Mourinho remained mum despite having arrived in Portugal on Thursday ahead of his club’s upcoming friendly matches.