LISBON (Reuters) - Flamengo coach Jorge Jesus, who has achieved hero status for his achievements after just six months in charge of the famous Brazilian club, was awarded the Portuguese order of recognition on Monday for services to his country.
Portugal president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa announced his decision to give Jesus the award after the coach led Flamengo to this month’s Club World Cup final against Liverpool.
“Of course, it was not me or my team who discovered or gave independence to Brazil, but it was us who on the 23 and 24 November conquered two titles in Brazil, so we too will go down in history, in our own way,” Jesus said at the ceremony.
“In 50 years I won’t be here, but they’ll say, ‘The Portuguese were the first to conquer the Libertadores and a Brazilian national championship’.”
Initially treated with scepticism by Brazilian fans concerned about his age and ability to adapt to their country’s style of football, the 65-year-old Jesus turned Flamengo’s fortunes around after becoming coach in June.
Jesus led Flamengo in November to their first South American Copa Libertadores title for 38 years and 24 hours later they were confirmed as Brazilian title winners before reaching the Club World Cup final, losing to European champions Liverpool.
Jesus’s 29-year coaching career included six years with Benfica and three seasons at Sporting, and the presidents of both Portuguese clubs were present at the ceremony.
Jesus declined to comment on whether he will stay at Flamengo or return to Portugal after his contract expires in June.
“I’ll come back, but I don’t know when. It’s harder to come back now, there’s no doubt about that,” he said.
Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho received the same award, called the Order of Prince Henry and founded in 1960, after winning the Champions League with Porto in 2004.
Reporting by Victoria Waldersee, editing by Ed Osmond