A busy final week of 2020 for Portuguese coaches abroad ended with Ricardo Sá Pinto losing his job at Vasco da Gama, just a few days after Rui Vitória was relieved of his duties by Saudi outfit Al-Nassr and Vitór Pereira was announced as leaving Shanghai SIPG.
As Sá Pinto, Vitória and Pereira become free agents, there was an exciting opportunity for former Benfica B coach Renato Paiva, who became the latest Portuguese to head to South America after signing a deal with Independiente del Valle in Ecuador.
Sá Pinto’s departure from Vasco had felt an inevitability of late, despite the former Braga and Sporting man only arriving in Brazil in October. Sá Pinto won just three of his fifteen matches in charge in all competitions, and Vasco picked up just 10 points from 33 available during his tenure and sit in the relegation zone in the Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A table.
The Rio de Janeiro club announced his sacking on Tuesday and Sa Pinto took to social media the following day to express his disappointment.
“Vascainos, it is with great regret that today I am no longer one of you,” he began on social media. “It was a pride to represent a club with Vasco's greatness and tradition. I leave unhappy because I could not finish the project.
“I take the club in my heart”
“I arrived and left with the conviction that this should have been a long relationship, with us reaching higher levels. I also leave convinced that we gave everything, me and my technical team. Unfortunately, we arrived at the club in a troubled moment, both due to recent events, but also due to years of carelessness and use that have not benefited our ‘Giant of the Hill’ (club nickname).
“I’m grateful for the support of the management, which could not have done more. I thank my players for their professionalism, and all the staff at the club for their commitment and dedication. Finally, the most important, to the foundation of this club: you, the Vascainos. The biggest pity I have is not being able to have your company and support in a full São Januário, because I don't doubt it would be a unique experience, and it would make a difference in supporting the team. I am no longer Vasco's coach, but I take the club in my heart!”
Rui Vitória leaves Al Nassr
Al Nassr’s decision to fire coach Rui Vitória also came as little surprise after the perennial powerhouses continued their drastic decline in results. Vitoria left last week with the team in the relegation zone after winning just two of their opening ten matches in the Pro League having been expected to challenge as usual for the title.
Our contract with our Portuguese 🇵🇹head coach Rui Vitória was mutually terminated, thank you! 🙏🏼💛 pic.twitter.com/bcpjsY8A6l— AlNassr FC (@AlNassrFC_EN) December 27, 2020
Vitória arrived at the club almost two years ago in January 2019, having just been sacked by Benfica. Vitória immediately made his mark at Al Nassr, leading them to the national championship in his first season at the helm, but the disastrous start to his third campaign in charge led the club to call time on his spell.
Vitória’s job had been in doubt for several weeks, with the 50-year-old telling reporters in October that he would “not give up” and “there are fans who want me to leave and fans who want me to stay.”
Vitór Pereira ends 3-year spell in China
Chinese club Shanghai SIPG announced that Vitór Pereira is leaving the club after the closing of the 2020 season saw him complete his third and final term in charge. Pereira led Shanghai to their first-ever Chinese CSL title in 2018 and the Chinese FA Super Cup in 2019, and earned individual recognition in the city.
In 2019, Pereira was issued with the Shanghai Magnolia Memorial Award, in which the city recognizes the excellent contribution of a foreigner.
Pereira is one of just four Portuguese coaches to win league titles in three different countries, alongside José Mourinho, Artur Jorge and Jesualdo Ferreira. As well as winning back-to-back titles with Porto in his homeland, Pereira also lifted the Greek title with Olympiacos in 2015.
The news of Pereira leaving China comes weeks after José Morais announced he would not renew his contract with Jeonbuk Motors in South Korea after leading the club to a league and cup double in his second season in charge.
Paiva heads to Ecuador
One Portuguese coach coming into a new job abroad this Christmas is Renato Paiva. The 50-year-old has signed a two-year contract with Independiente del Valle in Ecuador after 15 years coaching Benfica at youth level. Paiva was in charge of Benfica B before leaving for South America, having guided the U17 and U19 sides for long spells since joining the staff in 2005.
Paiva becomes the latest in a growing trend of Portuguese coaches in South America, with the recent influx beginning with Carlos Queiroz taking over the Colombia national team in 2018. José Peseiro is the current boss of Venezuela, while at club level the success of Jorge Jesus at Flamengo led to Jesualdo Ferreira, Abel Ferreira and Sá Pinto being hired by major Brazilian clubs in 2020.
By Sean Gillen