Fernando Santos & Fernando Gomes
Fernando Santos & Fernando Gomes with a "pandemic handshake" on the new deal (image courtesy of the FPF)

Portugal coach Fernando Santos has had his contract renewed as head coach of the Seleção until 2024.

The 65-year-old will therefore lead his team’s defence of the European Championship and the Nations League, two trophies won under Santos, making him Portugal’s most successful ever coach.

He will also be in the dugout for World Cup 2022 in Qatar and oversee qualification (at least) for Euro 2024. 

“This decision was very easy insofar as we are renewing the contract of a national team coach that is a European Champion,” said Fernando Gomes, the head of the Portuguese Football Federation.

“The results, on top of the excellent work done over these last six years, give us a guarantee that he is deserving of this new agreement. He is a person who is respected, who respects others, and above all he is a winner.”

It is curious to recall that when Fernando Santos was appointed in the wake of the sacking of Paulo Bento in 2014, the choice was far from consensual. Winning Euro 2016 instantly catapulted the veteran manager to national hero status in Portugal.

He continues to enjoy widespread support, although critics point to the team’s unambitious style of play, with many fans and analysts claiming the Seleção should play a more proactive brand of football given the lavish talent available.  

Record number of victories

Santos himself maintains the stance he has championed since Day One in the hotseat, saying winning is all that matters. And 44 wins so far in his tenure - an outright record for a Portugal national team coach - provides strong support for his football philosophy.

“It’s a great privilege for me and my coaching team to serve Portugal and Portuguese football,” said Santos. “We will always have one ambition, which is to win.”

“We know that we’re not going to be able to win everything, but we will be fighting to win everything. Since we arrived here, this is the target we set ourselves.”

by Tom Kundert