Widely expected to extend his contract with Benfica, Jorge Jesus has done the unthinkable – he’s abandoned the club he led to the Portuguese title the last two seasons for their arch-rival.
Sporting CP announced Friday night that the club had reached an agreement with Jesus to become manager after Marco Silva was fired despite winning the Portuguese Cup.
The move was shocking considering not just that the two clubs are bitter rivals, but that Jesus was largely thought to be remaining with Benfica despite the expiry of his contract. However, on Thursday, the same day Silva was let go, it was announced that Jesus would not be returning to Benfica as talks for a new contract stalled. Then a day later, he became the first manager to ever directly move from one Portuguese rival to the other.
In six years atop Benfica, the 60-year-old led them to three league titles and two Europa League finals, while becoming the winningest coach in Benfica history with 10 trophies.
Jesus returns to Sporting CP 40 years after making his debut for the club that gave him his first professional contract as a player in 1975. Now, he must take the club that finished a distant third this past season and move them past the other two giants Benfica and Porto, who battled until the final day for the championship. Sporting hasn’t won the league title since the 2001/02 season, and has been second-fiddle to the other two clubs for much of the time since.
So what will be his first match in charge of Sporting? A meeting with Benfica in the Portuguese Super Cup in August, of course.