Fernando Santos has stepped down as the head coach of Portugal following their disappointing 2022 FIFA World Cup exit.
The 68-year-old leaves after Portugal’ shock 1-0 quarter-final defeat to Morocco at the World Cup in Qatar.
Santos spent eight years in charge of Portugal, guiding the team to victory at two international competitions for the first time: Euro 2016 in France, and the inaugural Uefa Nations League in 2019.
“The Portuguese Football Federation and Fernando Santos agreed to end the highly successful journey that began in September 2014”, the Portuguese Football Association (FPF) said in a statement on Thursday night.
“After one of the best participation ever by the National Team in the final stages of the World Championship, in Qatar, FPF and Fernando Santos understand that this is the right time to start a new cycle”, it added.
Santos took the bold decision to drop Cristiano Ronaldo following the group stage. The move paid off in the last 16, as Ronaldo’s replacement Goncalo Ramos scored a hat-trick in a 6-1 win over Switzerland.
The 37-year-old Ronaldo came on as a substitute in the quarter-final match against Morocco but could not prevent Portugal from going out.
Santos repeatedly faced questions over dropping Ronaldo but the head coach insisted he had no regrets about the decisions over the star footballer, who was left in tears at the final whistle of the Morocco defeat.
Portugal will now begin the process of appointing a new head coach.
“It was an honour to have a coach and a person like Fernando Santos at the head of the national team”, the FPF said.
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 will now begin the process of choosing the next national coach”, it added.