LONDON - May 27, 2003 (IranSportsPress.com)--Iran Sports Press can exclusively reveal that the Iranian Football Federation has made an official approach to sign Antonio Oliveira as the next head coach of the Iranian National Football Team.
Talking exclusively to Iran Sports Press, Pejman Nozad, the lead negotiator on behalf of the Iranian Football Federation revealed that talks between the two camps are in its final stages and that the 52-year-old Oliveira will be travelling next week to the Iranian capital of Tehran to put pen to paper. Financial conditions have not yet been finalized but both sides expect to complete it upon his arrival in Tehran.
Nozad revealed in his conversation with Iran Sports Press that many coaches were considered, "two months ago when Iran's Football Federation asked me to conduct some research and find the ideal candidate for coaching Iran's National team I came up with a few names. Taking into consideration the job description I came up with a list of world class coaches including the likes of Phillipe Troussier, Wanderley Luxemburgo, Henri Michele, Alfred Bassile and Antonio Oliveira. After discussing the details of our goals and the character of the person we needed for a long term and complete plan, the football federation of Iran concluded that Antonio Oliveira would be the ideal man. He is an outstanding coach with great expertise. I am confident; providing he has the right infrastructure he can guide Iran to great success."
Born July 10, 1952 in Penafiel, Portugal, Antonio Oliveria played as a midfield player with Football Club (FC) Porto for 14 years. Throughout his career he also played for his hometown club Penafiel, Sporting Lisbon and Betis. His attacking style of play was especially evident when he played for the Portuguese National Team, touting an impressive goal-per-game ratio.
After finishing his playing career, Oliveira began a colourful career as a coach, and placed him at the helm of the Portuguese national team twice, the Portuguese U-21 Team once and 8 different Portuguese clubs since 1980. Oliveira started with his hometown club, Penafiel and then moved to Sporting Lisbon, where he won his first trophy as a player-manager. Three years later, he was appointed the U-21 team coach.
In 1994 Oliveira was appointed the head coach of the Portuguese National Team and led his side to the 1996 European Championships in England. After losing 1-0 to the eventual finalists, Czech Republic, in the quarterfinal stage of the European Championships, Oliveira resigned his post and returned home to become FC Porto's coach. He soon put the disappointment of Euro-96 behind him by winning two successive league titles in the 1997 and 1998 seasons, with his team displaying free-flowing attack football. Due to the unexpected resignation of Humberto Coelho, Oliveira once again took the helm of the Portuguese National team for the second time. Humberto Coelho resigned despite taking Portugal to the semi-finals of the European Championships in 2000.
Antonio Oliveira enjoyed far more success as the national team head coach the second time around. He became the national hero as he led Portugal to its first World Cup since 1986, finishing above Republic of Ireland and knocking out Holland in the process.
Despite being one of the most fancied teams before the start of the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan, Portugal made a shock exit very early on. Defeats against United States and South Korea, and lacklustre performances by Portuguese stars such as the 2001 World Player of the Year, Luis Figo, resulted in Oliveira's dismissal from his post on June 25, 2002.
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