Paulo Alexandre Rodrigues Fonseca (born 5 March 1973) is a Portuguese former professional footballer who played as a central defender, currently a manager.

Paulo Fonseca
Paulo Fonseca 2017.jpg
Fonseca with Shakhtar in 2017
Personal information
Full namePaulo Alexandre Rodrigues Fonseca[1]
Date of birth (1973-03-05) 5 March 1973 (age 48)[1]
Place of birthNampula, Mozambique
Height1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)[1]
Position(s)Centre back
Youth career
1983–1984UD Vila Chã
Senior career*
1995–1996Leça (loan)22(0)
1996–1997Belenenses (loan)27(1)
1997–1998Marítimo (loan)31(2)
1998–2000Vitória Guimarães6(0)
2000–2005Estrela Amadora72(4)
Teams managed
2005–2007Estrela Amadora (youth)
2007–20081º Dezembro
2012–2013Paços Ferreira
2014–2015Paços Ferreira
2016–2019Shakhtar Donetsk
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

He amassed Primeira Liga totals of 111 matches and three goals over seven seasons, mainly with Estrela da Amadora. He became a manager in 2005, notably winning the 2015–16 Taça de Portugal with Braga as well as three editions of the Ukrainian Premier League with Shakhtar Donetsk.

Playing career

Born in Nampula, Portuguese Mozambique to a military father, Fonseca was a year old when his family relocated to Barreiro following the Carnation Revolution.[2] He played 14 years as a senior, beginning with his adopted hometown's F.C. Barreirense in the third division and moving straight to the Primeira Liga with Leça F.C. in the 1995–96 season, starting in 21 of his league appearances as the club finished 14th and narrowly avoided relegation. In the following five years he continued in the latter competition, being first choice with C.F. Os Belenenses and C.S. Marítimo but only a backup with Vitória S.C. and C.F. Estrela da Amadora.[3][4]

Fonseca retired in June 2005 at the age of 32 after a further four campaigns with Estrela, three of those spent in the Segunda Liga. In the 2003–04 campaign he participated in 15 games as the Lisbon side ranked last in the top tier, with the subsequent relegation.[4]

Coaching career

Early years / Paços Ferreira

Fonseca started coaching immediately after retiring, remaining two years at the helm of Estrela da Amadora's youths. From 2007 to 2011 he was in charge of several modest teams, notably C.D. Pinhalnovense which he led to the quarter-finals of the Taça de Portugal in both the 2009–10 and 2010–11 seasons.[5][6]

In 2011–12, Fonseca was appointed at C.D. Aves in division two for his first job in the professionals,[7] and he led the team to the third position, just two points shy of promotion. In the following campaign he signed for F.C. Paços de Ferreira, again finishing third to qualify the club for their maiden campaign in the UEFA Champions League; highlights included winning both games against S.C. Braga (2–0 at home, 3–2 away) and Sporting CP (1–0 on both occasions).[8][9]


Fonseca succeeded Vítor Pereira at FC Porto – winners of the last three league titles – when he signed a two-year contract on 10 June 2013.[10][11] He started his spell on a high note, winning the year's Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira after a 3–0 victory over Vitória de Guimarães which marked his first honour as a coach.[12][13]

However, on 5 March 2014, following a string of poor results that left the club in the third position in the league, nine points behind leaders S.L. Benfica, Fonseca was relieved of his duties.[14] Previously, on 12 January, he had stated that Porto would be champions in the last matchday against that opponent.[15]

Paços return / Braga

On 11 June 2014, Fonseca returned to Paços de Ferreira[16] His one season back at the Estádio da Mata Real resulted in an 8th-place finish, missing out on UEFA Europa League qualification on the final day.[17]

Fonseca signed a two-year deal with Braga on 1 July 2015.[18] He led them to fourth position, also winning the domestic cup with a penalty shootout victory over Sporting in the final.[19]

Shakhtar Donetsk

Fonseca presenting five new signings in July 2018

Fonseca moved abroad for the first time in his career on 31 May 2016, replacing legendary Mircea Lucescu (12 seasons) at the helm of FC Shakhtar Donetsk and signing a two-year contract at the Ukrainian Premier League side.[20][21] He won the double in all three seasons of his spell[22][23]– which earned him the distinction as the league's best coach in 2016–17.[24]

Fonseca's side reached the round of 16 of the 2017–18 UEFA Champions League,[25] after finishing second in the group stage following a 2–1 home defeat of Premier League club Manchester City.[26] Having inflicted a first defeat in 29 matches of Pep Guardiola's side, he kept a promise to do his next press conference dressed as the fictional hero Zorro.[27]


On 11 June 2019, Fonseca was appointed manager of A.S. Roma.[28] He led the side to the fifth place in the Serie A in his first season,[29] as well as the semi-finals of the subsequent Europa League.[30][31] He announced his departure in May 2021.[32]

Immediately after leaving Roma, Fonseca was director Fabio Paratici's top choice to be manager of Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur. However, the advanced negotiations were scrapped on 17 June 2021,[33] due to tax issues.[34] In October, he was interviewed by Newcastle United following their Saudi-led takeover, before the interest shifted to Unai Emery and Eddie Howe;[35] his name was then linked to a third English club, Aston Villa.[36]

Managerial style

At Shakhtar and Roma, Fonseca preferred a 4–2–3–1 formation and an emphasis on dominating possession. At both teams, the player behind the centre forward played as a second striker; Henrikh Mkhitaryan achieved 13 goals in 2020–21 from that position.[37][38][39]

Managerial statistics

As of match played 23 May 2021[40][41][42]
Managerial record by team and tenure
1º Dezembro 1 July 200730 June 2008341311103932+7038.24
Odivelas 30 June 20081 July 2009351110144446−2031.43
Pinhalnovense 1 July 20097 June 2011723321189868+30045.83
Aves 7 June 201130 May 201238161664929+20042.11
Paços de Ferreira 30 May 20129 June 201341221366238+24053.66
Porto 10 June 20135 March 20143721976931+38056.76
Paços de Ferreira 10 June 20141 July 2015391412135853+5035.90
Braga 1 July 201531 May 2016572915139058+32050.88
Shakhtar Donetsk 31 May 201611 June 20191391031917295112+183074.10
Roma 11 June 201930 June 2021102532227195139+56051.96





Shakhtar Donetsk



External links