Fernando Santos’ contract was extended until the end of Euro 2024, but following a disappointing World Cup campaign, he has announced his resignation.
When Morocco ended Portugal’s World Cup dream, the writing was on the wall for Fernando Santos.
His departure was confirmed by the Portuguese Football Federation less than a week after the defeat at Al Thumama Stadium. “Having a coach and a person like Fernando Santos at the helm of the National Team was an honor,” the National Team said in a statement on Thursday.
“The FPF thanks Fernando Santos and his technical team for the services provided over eight unique years and believes that this thanks is also made on behalf of the Portuguese people. The FPF Board of Directors will now start the search for the next national coach.”
While his tenure as national team coach ended in failure in Qatar, Santos’ impact will be felt for years to come.
Since taking over in 2014, Portugal has had its most successful period in its long football history. Under his able leadership, the Selecao won the European Championships in 2016 and the inaugural UEFA Nations League three years later.
The great and good of Portuguese football have rushed to pay tribute to the departing manager, which is perhaps unsurprising. “Many thanks, Mr. Fernando Santos!” Pepe shared something on social media.
“I value your efforts, leadership, and commitment. For all of the joys and victories over the years. Thank you for your outstanding contributions to Portuguese soccer and Portugal.”
Fernando Santos was fired as manager of Portugal earlier this week.
Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes also thanked mister Fernando Santos. “Thank you for the opportunity to represent our country and for your trust in us over the last few years,” he said on Twitter.
“As a Portuguese, thank you for putting Portugal at the top of Europe and returning confidence and belief to a ‘small’ country that it was possible to be among the ‘big ones’.
“There were moments of glory and joy, as well as sad and frustrating moments, but history was made and will live on in the hearts of all Portuguese.”
But, of all the tributes, perhaps the one that hasn’t come is the most telling. The image of Cristiano Ronaldo on the touchline of the Stade de France with Santos represents a watershed moment in Portuguese football history.
The duo who finally got the Selecao over the finish line in a major tournament returned to Lisbon with the trophy.
Ronaldo and Santos raise the European Championship trophy after winning Euro 2016.
However, five years later, the couple’s relationship was significantly more strained. Santos publicly chastised his players for their reactions to being substituted against South Korea, but this was just the start of the controversy.
The decision to leave Ronaldo out of the starting lineup for their knockout matches sparked international outrage. In the last-16 against Switzerland, stand-in Goncalo Ramos scored a stunning hat-trick, proving the bold selection decision.
However, Santos was forced to rely on the 37-year-old against Morocco because the forward was unable to perform one last rescue act. Georgina Rodriguez, the ex-Manchester United player’s partner, did little to dispel the rumors of a breakup, posting a lengthy message on social media following Portugal’s exit in Qatar: “Today your friend and coach made the wrong decision,” she wrote to her 40 million followers.
“That friend for whom you have so much admiration and respect. He was the one who noticed how everything changed when he put you on the field, but it was too late.
“You can’t underestimate the world’s best player, its most powerful weapon. Much less should one defend those who do not deserve to be defended.”
Following his benching, speculation swirled that the player and manager had a strained relationship, with Ronaldo threatening to leave the camp, though he strongly denied ever intending to leave his country.
However, actions speak louder than words – or, in this case, the absence of them. While his countrymen have taken to social media to express themselves, Ronaldo has remained silent. The world’s most visible free agent has 517 million Instagram followers and updates his account on a regular basis.
However, radio silence in this case. Ronaldo stated that once his obligations with Portugal were completed, his sole focus would be on finding a new club, but his silence now speaks volumes.