The Portuguese federation (FPF) confirmed on Thursday that Fernando Santos had been fired as coach of Portugal following the team’s 2022 World Cup quarterfinal loss to Morocco.
Santos, 68, assumed leadership in 2014 and led Portugal to their first-ever senior international championship when they defeated France in the Euro 2016 championship game. The team won the 2019 UEFA Nations League title under the direction of the former Greece national team manager.
However, a shocking 1-0 loss to Morocco marked the end of his career in Qatar. 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. The FPF Board will now begin the process of choosing the next national coach. 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,” ESPN quoted as read in a statement from the FPF.
In an emotional video message, Santos said that being Portugal’s coach was a dream come true and a life goal he fulfilled.
“When you lead groups, you have to make some difficult decisions. It’s normal that not everyone was happy with the choices I made but the decisions I took were always thinking about what would be best for our team,” added the coach.
Santos’ decision to bench Portugal’s star player Cristiano Ronaldo for the team’s round of 16 match against Switzerland caused controversy for Portugal as well.
Santos’ choice, which was made after Ronaldo made it clear that he was upset over being taken off in the previous match against South Korea, was validated when substitute Goncalo Ramos scored a hat trick in a 6-1 victory.
When Portugal unexpectedly lost to Morocco, Santos again started with Ronaldo on the bench until inserting him early in the second half. Santos said he didn’t regret his choice thereafter.
“I don’t think so, no regrets. If we take two people that were the most upset it is Cristiano Ronaldo and me. Of course, we are upset, but that is part of the job of the coach and the player. 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,” expressed Santos as quoted by ESPN. (ANI)