Head coach Sergio Conceicao departs FC Porto!

After 2,552 days in charge of FC Porto, Sérgio Conceição will leave the position he has held for seven seasons. Behind him is a path full of records and trophies: eleven, more precisely, between championships (three), Portuguese Cups (four), Cândido de Oliveira Super Cups (three) and League Cups.

The man born in Ribeira de Frades moved to Invicta long before he was presented as coach of the club of his heart. In 1991, at just 16 years old, the promising footballer arrived at Estádio das Antas hitchhiking with his father José and what followed were very difficult times for a teenager away from home.

He took refuge in the loves of a lifetime – Liliana, with whom he would marry and have five children, and the sport that today everyone is passionate about -, completed his training in the Porto schools and began his career as a senior between loans to Penafiel, Leça and Felgueiras. He returned to Antas at the request of António Oliveira, the helmsman responsible for the third and fourth Penta titles and who made Sérgio Conceição one of the best right wingers in Europe.

Determined to build a team of stars, Lazio signed him along with Fernando Couto, Mihajlovic, Stankovic, Marcelo Salas or Vieri and found another idol for the tiffosi. In two seasons in the eternal city, the “friend Conceição” won a Cup Winners’ Cup, a European Super Cup, a Scudetto, two Cups and an Italian Super Cup. Along the way, he scored a hat-trick against Oliver Kahn in Portugal’s 3-0 win over Germany at Euro 2000.

Once the goal was achieved, he made a stopover in Parma where he found another dressing room full of stars such as Buffon, Cannavaro or Thuram, but he did not have the desired success and so he headed to Milan, to the Inter of Zanetti, Seedorf, Recoba, Vieri or Ronaldo. After another (but short) spell at the Olimpico in Rome, he returned to the club of his heart in time to see them crowned European Champion for the second time – and to win another LaLiga, of course.

José Mourinho left and so did Sérgio Conceição, eventually landing in Belgium and creating a strong connection with Standard Liège, the club that hosted him between 2004 and 2007 until Sérgio Conceição decided to feel the air of the desert. The experience in Arab football was short-lived, PAOK’s doors opened immediately and it was in Thessaloniki, under the command of Fernando Santos, that the “eternal dissatisfied” hung up his boots.

When one career was over, another one was about to begin, even more fruitful. Sérgio Conceição even started as sporting director of the Greeks, but soon missed the smell of grass and so he returned to Belgium to join the technical team of Standard. Homesickness was tight, so he decided to accept Olhanense’s invitation and start a solo adventure.

Having just saved the Algarve from relegation, he succeeded Pedro Emanuel on the bench of Académica de Coimbra, where he remained until a proposal from SC Braga emerged. From there to Guimarães it was a shot and from the Cradle City to Nantes as well. The phone call I’ve always wanted to receive came at the end of May 2017.

After four years without any conquest in football, Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa bet all his chips on an old friend who put FC Porto back on the path of triumphs. No sooner said, than done. At the first opportunity, the duo kept the Penta, an exclusive of the Dragons, with the right to maximum dand points (88). 2018/19 started with victory in the Super Cup, but did not end in the desired way.

Sérgio Conceição has always fed on adversity and never gave up, so he continued to work harder than the competition to regain the title during confinement and after being seven points behind Benfica. Not satisfied, they beat their rivals in the finals of the Cup and the Super Cup.

In the following months, he once again lifted the cup to which Cândido de Oliveira gives his name, debuted his son Francisco in the first team and laid the foundations for the best campaign in memory: 2021/22, the golden year in which FC Porto set new records for points in the League (91), of consecutive rounds without losing (58, a European record) and, just as André Villas-Boas had done, celebrated the title at Estádio da Luz.

The 2022/23 season did not end at Aliados, but it did end with three more trophies in the Museum’s showcases – among them the elusive League Cup, which made the portistas holders of all national titles -, and with Sérgio Conceição inscribing his name in golden letters in a book of honour of unparalleled victories.

At the age of 49, more than three decades after he began to defend the blessed coat of arms, he says goodbye to FC Porto as the coach with the most games (379), victories (274) and trophies (11) in the history of the blue and white. Thank you, Sérgio Conceição.

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