Renato Paiva has ended his spell with Ecuadorian champions Independiente del Valle, after signing a three-year contract with Club Leon of Mexico.

Former Benfica academy coach Paiva leaves Independiente after 18 months at the helm, during which time he led the club to their first-ever Ecuadorian championship in 2021.

The move north to Mexico has been mooted for some time, with Paiva widely expected to put the finishing touches on his contract once the Opening Stage of the Ecuadorian Championship ended on Monday night. Independiente, who are currently 4th, drew 1-1 at 9 de Octubre and Paiva was emotional when speaking to the media after taking his final match in charge.

“I’ve feelings of gratitude for what this club has done for me, for taking the risk to bring me to be part of this project, when I was an unknown person to professional football,” Paiva said. “I’m eternally grateful for that, I believe that I also left my mark and gave everything for this club.

“This happens with players and coaches and if you have projects that are better at all levels, you also have to see that I’m 52 years old and I also have to think about my life. I’m proud to leave a sporting mark, but more than anything a personal mark.”

Paiva left his job with Benfica B in December 2020 to embark on a new adventure in South America. The move proved a huge success when Independiente were crowned Ecuadorian Serie A champions in 2021, representing the first time the team from Sangolqui had conquered their country.

“I will always be remembered as the first national champion coach for this club, this will always be on record,” Paiva said. “It’s a title, it’s a piece of history for the club and for me, but all these expressions of affection from my players, my directors, the fans, the people who work at the club every day, the way some cried... I haven’t cried as much in my life as I have in recent days, I believe it’s a legacy and more important than a title.”

Leon wasted little time in making Paiva’s arrival official, announcing his arrival with a humorous VAR-themed video on their social media networks. In the video, a VAR video screen travels from the team’s Estadio León to a local town centre, where Paiva appears to greet supporters and confirm his arrival.

“Thank you for coming to review this video in the city centre,” Paiva says. “I am very happy to be part of this great team, together we will be one, together we will make La Fiera indomitable. I am Renato Paiva, the new coach of La Fiera, I value your support and will see you very soon.”

Paiva will have just over a month to prepare for his opening Leon match, with their 2022-23 Apertura campaign set to begin on July 3rd with a trip to Atletico San Luis.

By Sean Gillen

@SeanGillen16

 

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