Ricardo Sá Pinto wins Cypriot title with APOEL

Portuguese coach Ricardo Sá Pinto has become national champion for the first time as a manager after guiding APOEL FC to the title in Cyprus.

APOEL ended a five-year wait to regain their crown, in what was a typically turbulent year for ex-Portugal international Sá Pinto, who was banned for four months during the campaign.

Sá Pinto took charge of APOEL last summer, the latest of a string of foreign jobs which have recently taken in stints in Poland, Brazil, Türkiye and Iran. The former forward has become as notorious for his fiery demeanour as his coaching success, but winning APOEL a tightly-contested battle with AEK Larnaca is a special moment for Sá Pinto.

“Congratulations to the team,” he said. “I'm happy, it was an important title for me. I came to APOEL for that reason, to win the championship. This was my first championship as a coach, in a difficult period for the team."

APOEL led the standings on goal difference heading into the final matchday of the championship round. Sá Pinto’s side met nearest challengers AEK at home and managed to recover from an early deficit to earn a 1-1 draw to clinch the title.

Known as an emotional and sometimes volatile character, Sá Pinto was banned for four months in October for his part in a half-time scuffle with members of the Anorthosis staff during a First Division match between the sides.

“The most difficult moment for me in the season was being suspended for four whole months,” said the APOEL boss. “I was strong, I held on and we won the championship.”

The trophy is the 3rd managerial prize of Sá Pinto’s career. He won the Iranian Super Cup with Esteghlal in 2022, as well as the Belgian Cup with Standard Liege in 2018.

By @SeanGillen9