Five weeks before it begins its Champions League qualifying campaign, Maccabi Tel Aviv announced on Wednesday that it has agreed a two-year deal with Paulo Sousa to coach the team.

After leading Maccabi to its first Premier League championship in 10 years, Spaniard Oscar Garcia announced three weeks ago that he was leaving the side after a single season due to personal reasons.

Numerous names were since linked with the vacated position, but Maccabi ended the speculation on Wednesday when it signed the 42-year-old Portuguese coach as Oscar’s successor.

“I want to begin by thanking the club owner, Mitch Goldhar, his representative Jack Angelides and sports director, Jordi Cruyff, for showing trust in me and for giving me this opportunity to become the head coach of this magnificent football club,” Sousa told the club’s official website.

“Their belief in me, and in my vision for the team, gives me great heart and motivation for the many challenges we will face. Maccabi is a club with a strong tradition, passionate support, and I hope that with everyone working together, we can achieve success.”

Maccabi is looking to reach the Champions League group stage for the second time in its history, but will have to come through three qualifying rounds to do so.

Sousa enjoyed an illustrious playing career at Benfica, Sporting Lisbon, Juventus, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, Parma, Panathinaikos and Espanyol, winning the Champions League on two occasions. He made 51 international appearances for Portugal before having his career cut short by injury, retiring at the age of 31.

Sousa began his coaching career with the Portugal national team, working as an assistant to then-coach Carlos Queiroz before taking his first club role at London side QPR in November 2008. He lasted just five months before being sacked by the club, which claimed he had divulged sensitive information without permission.

Four years ago he joined Swansea City, which like QPR was also in the English Championship at the time, but after one season he left for the opening at Leicester City.

He was fired after less than three months following a poor start to the season.

In May 2011, he signed with newly-crowned Hungarian champion Videoton, ending his only full season at the club in the runners-up position before guiding the team to the Europa League group stage at the start of the 2012/13 campaign. Four months later in January of this year he left the club, stating personal reasons.

“I am delighted that the next coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv will be Paulo Sousa,” said Maccabi’s owner, Mitch Goldhar, who met with Sousa two weeks ago together with Angelides.

“As a coach I believe Paulo embodies the qualities we strive for at Maccabi Tel Aviv – namely discipline, work ethic and respect.”

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