Turkish soccer club Fenerbahce announces Jose Mourinho as coach to end 10-year wait for league title

ISTANBUL (AP) — Former Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho was unveiled as the new coach of Fenerbahce on Sunday, tasked with winning the club a first league title since 2014 after six runner-up finishes.

“I promise you that from this moment I belong to your family,” Mourinho told thousands of fans at Sukru Saracoglu stadium. He triggered huge cheers by picking up the Fenerbahce jersey and saying “This shirt is my skin.”

Mourinho arrives at the storied Istanbul club one week after it was edged yet again for the Turkish league title by its eternal rival Galatasaray which has now won it five times in the past 10 years.

Fenerbahce, whose fans include Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, missed out in the title race despite a points tally of 99 and losing only one league game all season.

After days of strong indications Mourinho was to take charge, Fenerbahce announced in a social media post early Sunday that the Portuguese manager was to attend a ceremony at its stadium.

Mourinho was later photographed getting off an airplane that Fenerbahce posted with the simple message “THE SPECIAL ONE” — a description he gave himself on arriving at Chelsea 20 years ago, leaving Porto as a new Champions League winner.

Now aged 61, Mourinho should lift the profile and status of a club that never won a European title and will enter the Champions League in the early qualifying rounds in July.

Mourinho has won Champions Leagues with Porto and Inter Milan, the Europa League — or its predecessor the UEFA Cup — with Porto and Manchester United, and a Europa Conference League with Roma two years ago.

He has coached teams to win eight domestic league titles in Portugal, England, Italy and Spain.

It’s his first job since he left Roma in January after two and a half years marked by the Europa Conference League title in 2022 and a series of disputes with referees.

The Portuguese has not worked outside of the top five European leagues since 2004, when he left Porto after winning the Champions League and joined Chelsea, which was on the rise under then-owner Roman Abramovich.

Since then he has also coached Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Tottenham in a career filled with trophies and off-field controversy.

It would surprise few people if Mourinho and Fenerbahce is a combustible mix in a fiercely passionate soccer city.

Fenerbahce clashed with Turkish soccer authorities last season, including by taking its team off the field during a Turkish Super Cup game in protest.

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The Associated Press