José Mourinho will take charge of Roma at the end of the season on a three-year contract, the Italian club confirmed on Tuesday afternoon.
Paulo Fonseca's departure after two seasons at the helm was announced earlier in the day and will now be replaced by countryman Mourinho, who makes a quick return to football having been sacked by Tottenham Hotspur last month.
Roma owner Dan Friedkin and vice-president Ryan Friedkin said they are “thrilled and delighted to welcome José Mourinho into the AS Roma family” before adding that they expect the new manager “provide tremendous leadership and experience to our ambitious project.”
Mourinho spoke briefly about his return to football and to the Italian league, almost eleven years after leaving Internazionale following their historic treble of Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League in 2010.
“Thank you to the Friedkin family for choosing me to lead this great club and to be part of their vision,” said the former Porto, Chelsea, Inter, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Tottenham boss.
“After meetings with the ownership and Tiago Pinto, I immediately understood the full extent of their ambitions for AS Roma. It is the same ambition and drive that has always motivated me and together we want to build a winning project over the upcoming years.
“The incredible passion of the Roma fans convinced me to accept the job and I cannot wait to start next season.
“In the meantime, I wish Paulo Fonseca all the best and I hope the media appreciate that I will only speak further in due course. Daje Roma!”
When José became available, we immediately jumped - Pinto
Roma’s sporting director, the 36-year-old Portuguese Tiago Pinto, was widely reported to be lining up a deal for Maurizio Sarri to take charge. However, after positive talks with Mourinho the former Benfica director has caused shock with an unexpected appointment.
“When José became available, we immediately jumped at the chance to speak with one of the greatest managers of all time,” Pinto said.
“We were blown away by José’s desire to win and his passion for the game: no matter how many trophies he has won, his primary focus is always on the next one. He possesses the knowledge, experience and leadership to compete at all levels.
“We know that in order to build a successful sporting project it takes time, patience and the right people in the right positions. We are supremely confident that José will be the perfect coach for our project, for both our immediate and long-term future.
“Together with the vision and ambition of Dan and Ryan Friedkin, we will build the foundations of a new AS Roma.”
Fonseca's "integrity and character"
Fonseca leaves Roma in the summer after two years in charge at the Stadio Olimpico. Despite achieving well for much of the current campaign, a recent decline in results saw the team slip to 7th place in Serie A which was compounded by a heavy 6-2 defeat to Manchester United in the Europa League semi-final first leg last week.
Chairman Dan Friedkin spoke of Fonseca’s “selfless integrity and great character” while Pinto noted some of the lasting effects of the outgoing coach’s two years in the Italian capital. “I would like to thank Paulo for all his work for the club over the last two seasons,” Pinto declared.
“Even if the results have not always been there on the pitch, we know that he has left many positive elements that will continue to help our development - like the many talented and young players he has encouraged and improved, and our progress in the Europa League this season.
“We are building a path to success at Roma, and Paulo has played an important role in that.”
Fonseca, who will continue for the remaining games of the season before looking to the future, issued his own statement on Tuesday after his departure was confirmed and before Mourinho’s appointment was announced.
Over these last two years we have experienced a number of highs and lows, but I have always given my all for this club and this city - a city that has always been so welcoming,” Paulo Fonseca said.
“I would like to thank the Roma fans, everyone we have worked with at Trigoria, the players, and all those who have helped us during this journey - in particular Dan and Ryan Friedkin, for their continuous support since they arrived, and Tiago Pinto, an incredible professional, whom I wish the best as he continues his work for the club.
“We still have some very important games in front of us this season that we want to win, and we will continue to give our all in order to do so.”
Where next for Fonseca? England? We’d love to hear your views
By Sean Gillen