Fernando Santos departs Portugal’s post following the country’s World Cup loss and the Ronaldo bench issue.
Fernando Santos has stepped down as Portugal’s head coach, ending a stint in which he became the team’s most successful manager.
The 68-year-old exits after Portugal’s World Cup quarter-final defeat to Morocco, capping off a fantastic tenure in charge that saw him lead Portugal to Euro 2016 and Nations League titles.
“The FPF and Fernando Santos agreed to stop the incredibly successful voyage that began in September 2014,” the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) announced in a statement.
“After one of the best participations ever by the national team in the latter stages of the World Cup, in Qatar, FPF and Fernando Santos understand that this is the appropriate moment to start a new cycle.
“It was an honor to have a coach and a person like Fernando Santos leading the national team.
“The FPF expresses gratitude to Fernando Santos and his technical staff for their contributions over the past eight years, and thinks that this gratitude is also expressed on behalf of the Portuguese people.”
Santos leaves at a time when it is unclear whether Cristiano Ronaldo will continue his international career.
The most prolific goalscorer in international football history battled for form throughout the World Cup, and with his 38th birthday approaching in February, his days as a top-level force may be done.
Santos relegated Ronaldo to the bench for Portugal’s two World Cup quarterfinal games, a 6-1 triumph over Switzerland and a 1-0 loss to Morocco.
Ronaldo came off the bench in both games, but had little influence. Later, Santos stated that he had “no remorse” about releasing the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
He was nonetheless chastised by Ronaldo’s girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez, who said on Instagram that the coach “made the wrong decision,” adding: “You can’t underestimate the best player in the world and the most powerful weapon you have, just as you can’t stand up for someone who doesn’t deserve it.”
Santos’ titles with Portugal remain the country’s sole major honors, with a 1-0 victory over France in the Euro 2016 final made all the more spectacular by the fact that Ronaldo was forced to quit due to an early injury.
Portugal then hosted and won the 2019 Nations League finals, defeating the Netherlands 1-0 in the final, however they were eliminated from Euro 2020 by Belgium.
The stunning defeat to Morocco forced Santos and Portugal to separate ways, despite the fact that the head coach was under contract until 2024.
Jose Mourinho, the coach of Roma, has been connected with the role after previously expressing a desire to get into international football.
If Portugal hires Mourinho, they will be hiring one of the most successful coaches in modern history, having led Porto and Inter to Champions League triumphs.
Mourinho has won numerous titles throughout his tenures at Chelsea, Real Madrid, and Manchester United, as well as guiding Roma to the inaugural Europa Conference League triumph last season.