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From Porto sorrow to Zorro: Paulo Fonseca’s most iconic moments at Roma, Shakhtar Donetsk and more

After looking set to take charge at Tottenham in the summer, Fonseca is now favourite to replace Steve Bruce at Newcastle United as they look to build for the future under new ownership.

Mozambique-born Fonseca has has built his managerial reputation after eyecatching spells at Shakhtar Donetsk and Roma and now is being tipped to replace Steve Bruce at St James' Park.

After Jose Mourinho's departure at Tottenham, Fonseca seemed set to replace the Special One in north London, but talks fell through - and Fonseca may be glad they did when considering the recent interest from Newcastle United.

The controversial Saudi Arabian takeover has flooded headlines for obvious reasons. If not for the hugely questionable human rights issue, then because of the ridiculous wealth being introduced to the club.

With a blank cheque to spend in Tyneside, Newcastle won't find it difficult to attract suitors, and Fonseca will no doubt be licking his lips at the idea of being the man chosen to spearhead the new project.

The former Roma manager currently finds himself out of a job after departing Italy in May 2021, and with nine major honours to his name there's no surprise that Newcastle have shown interest.

The 48-year-old has already amassed 14 years of managerial experience throughout his career, including stints in Portugal and Ukraine with Porto and Shakhtar Donetsk.

As the odds shorten on Fonseca taking over on Tyneside, Planet Sport runs through Fonseca's most iconic moments.

A modest start

Hailing from Mozambique, Fonseca played the majority of his soccer in Portugal. In his youth, he progressed through the ranks of Barreirense for five years before breaking into the senior squad in 1991.

Plying his trade as a central defender, Fonseca spent five seasons with the club in the third division, making 91 appearances and scoring six times.

Rather impressively, Fonseca transferred to Porto in 1995, but was deemed surplus to requirements and was loaned out before managing a senior appearance.

Fonseca then experienced a flurry of loan spells at Leca, Belenenses and Maritimo, before making a permanent switch to Estrela Amadora, where he saw out the remainder of his playing career.

In total, Fonseca made 249 senior appearances as a player, scoring 13 goals in the process.

For Newcastle fans, Fonseca's playing career might not make great reading. But we'll quickly remind you that the likes of Jurgen KloppArsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho also failed to shine as players, so Fonseca is in good company. 

Portuguese learning curve

After spending the twilight years of his career at Estrela Amadora, Fonseca called it quits on his playing career in 2005, when he was just 32 years old.

He wasted no time in entering coaching, and instantly took up a role as youth coach at the club, where he spent the next two years.

From 2007 to 2011, Fonseca departed on what seemed like a Portuguese road trip. The young manager undertook several coaching roles at different Portuguese clubs, most notably Pinhalnovense, who he led to the Taca de Portugal quarter-finals.

With more experience now under his belt, and still only 38 years old, Fonseca secured his first managerial job at a professional level at CD Aves. He led the club to a third-placed finish, narrowly missing out on promotion to the Primeira Liga.

But Fonseca continued to jump from club to club, never staying longer than a season, although he did have two separate spells at Pacos Ferreira either side of a stint at Porto.
Paulo Fonseca, Porto, Primeira Liga, manager

Fonseca's spell at Porto was his first big shot in management, and it started well when he won Portugal's equivalent to the Charity Shield - Supertaca Candido de Oliveira.

However, after a torrid run of results, Fonseca found his Porto side trailing by nine points to domestic rivals, Benfica, and the young manager was relieved of his duties.

Following his dismissal, Fonseca returned to Pacos Ferreira for a season, before joining Braga in the 2015/16 campaign.

In Braga, Fonseca proved that his dismissal from Porto was merely a learing curve, not a setback, and he led the side to a fourth-placed finish in the league, while beating Porto in the Taca de Portugal final to claim his first major honour.

Success in Ukraine

Paulo Fonseca, Roma, manager, Serie A
After a rather fitting end to his coaching career in Portugal, Fonseca moved abroad for the first time when he became manager of Shakhtar Donetsk, replacing their legendary manager of 12 years, Mircea Lucescu.

Fonseca didn't disappoint. In each of his three seasons at the club, he managed to win both the Ukrainian League as well as the Ukrainian Cup.

In the 2017/18 season, Fonseca even managed to achieve a treble, acquiring the league title, Ukranian Cup and Ukranian Super Cup.

In his 139 games in charge of Shakhtar, Fonseca achieved an unbelievable win rate of 74.1%, losing only 17.

Fonseca's domestic dominance in Ukraine was enough to reward him with the league's Best Coach award in the 2016/17 season, and Fonseca also managed to impress in Shakhtar's European campaigns.

In the 2016/17 season, Shakhtar competed in the Europa League, and under Fonseca topped the group with a perfect record which included back-to-back victories over his former club Braga.

In the knockout phase, despite an initial 1-0 away victory over Celta Vigo, Shakhtar were eliminated after falling to a 2-0 home defeat in the reverse fixture.

Starring as Zorro

After winning the Ukrainian League in his first season in charge, Fonseca's Shakhtar side qualified for the Champions League in the 2017/18 season, where they were handed a tough group stage draw against Napoli, Feyenoord and Manchester City.

At the time, Napoli were flying high in Serie A and Pep Guardiola's Manchester City were at the peak of their powers, enjoying a 28-game unbeaten streak. Not many gave Shakhtar a chance of qualifying.

Shakhtar's Champions League campaign got off to a good start thanks to a 2-1 win over Napoli in the opening game, but expectations were sent crashing down to earth when goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling inflicted a 2-0 defeat the following matchday.

Back-to-back victories over Feyenoord re-instilled hope in Shakhtar fans, but a 3-0 defeat in Naples left their European fate hanging in the balance.
Knowing they needed a result against a Manchester City side who had been unbeaten for months, Fonseca jokingly stated in the pre-match press conference that if his side qualified from the group stage, he would dress up as Zorro.

Courtesy of Ismaily and Bernard, Shakhtar took a surprising 2-0 lead before the half-time interval. Sergio Aguero pulled one back for the visitors in injury time, but it wasn't enough to stop the Ukrainian side from progressing.

As promised, in his following press conference, Fonseca showed his humorous character, entering the room dressed head-to-toe as Zorro. We've got to give it to him - he pulled it off.

Unfortunately for Shakhtar, their European dream ended a round later, against a club Fonseca would go on to join later in his career - Roma. After winning the first leg 2-1 at home, Roma saw out a 1-0 win in Italy to knock out Fonseca's side. But not before he provided us all with some high quality entertainment.

One too many substitutions

In an extraordinary turn of events, when in charge of Roma, Fonseca inadvertently made the mistake of making one too many substitutions during a Coppa Italia match.

Roma faced Spezia in a Coppa Italia round-of-16 clash in January 2021. After falling to an early 2-0 deficit, Fonseca's side fought back to 2-2, taking the game into extra time.

Within just two minutes of the added 30, Fonseca's side were reduced to nine men after Mancini picked up a second yellow. This was quickly followed by the dismissal of goalkeeper Pau Lopez, who was sent off after trying desperately to make amends for a poor clearance.

Amid all the chaos, Fonseca was left with a mess to fix, although the way he went about it was rather…illegal.

Fonseca immediately ordered a double substitution, introducing both Ibanez and Fuzato to the fray. Whether he was aware of the stunt he was pulling is unknown, but his double substitution took the tally up to six, with the Coppa Italia regulations only permitting five replacements.

During extra time, Spezia scored two further goals to make them 4-2 winners, meaning Fonseca's mistake thankfully mattered little, but the moment still attracted a lot of media attention, leaving Roma no choice but to "discuss the matter internally".

Fonseca's mistake came just months after the club had committed an administrative error in their matchday squad against Hellas Verona in Serie A. Roma were again punished and the result was recorded as a 3-0 loss.

READ MORE: Odds slashed on Paulo Fonseca to take the reins at Newcastle; Zidane and Conte unrealistic

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