- Associated Press - Saturday, June 6, 2015

LISBON, Portugal (AP) - Benfica coach Jorge Jesus is quitting the club he led to the Portuguese title in the last two seasons and moving to crosstown rival Sporting Lisbon in an unprecedented switch that stunned fans.

Jesus was out of contract at Benfica but was widely expected to extend his six-year stint at the Stadium of Light where he captured his 10th trophy last month, becoming the club’s most successful coach.

However, Sporting announced late Friday that Jesus would take charge at its Jose Alvalade Stadium from July 1 on a three-year contract.

The announcement came a day after Benfica said it was looking for a coach for next season and Sporting fired Marco Silva.

Sporting’s president Bruno de Carvalho announced “a new cycle in the life of Sporting begins today.”

Carvalho said that after two years of restructuring, the club’s ambition was now to “become champions again,” adding that hiring Jesus was “to bet on experience and continue to focus on training as a priority.”

No coach has ever moved directly between the two clubs with Benfica fans expressing their shock on social media. One supporter tweeted that Jesus would get a hostile reception at his first match in charge of Sporting next season - the Portuguese Super Cup against Benfica in August.

Under Jesus last season, Benfica won its first back-to-back titles in 31 years and its 34th league crown in club history. It also won the Portuguese League Cup.

As well as leading Benfica to two straight Europa League finals, Jesus collected three Portuguese league titles, one Portuguese Cup and five League Cups at Benfica.

Sporting hasn’t won the title since the 2001-02 season but has big ambitions after Angolan investors joined the club.

Sporting finished third last season, putting it into the third qualifying round for the Champions League.

Sporting won the Portuguese Cup last season, setting up the potentially tense meeting with Benfica in the Portuguese Supercup.


Harold Heckle in Madrid contributed to this report.



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