Jose Mourinho predicted Rui Faria would become a top manager after his long-time assistant decided to leave Manchester United.
The pair have worked in tandem for 17 years but will go their separate ways at the end of the season.
Faria has worked alongside fellow Portuguese Mourinho at Old Trafford since 2016, having also been on his coaching staff at Premier League rivals Chelsea as well as at Porto, Inter Milan and Real Madrid.
Mourinho said on the United website: “17 years… in Leiria, Porto, London, Milan, Madrid, London again and Manchester.
“Training, playing, travelling, studying, laughing and also a few tears of happiness. 17 years and the kid is now a man. The intelligent student is now a football expert, ready for a successful career as a manager.”
Mourinho added: “I will miss my friend and that is the hardest thing for me, but his happiness is more important and, of course, I respect his decision, especially because I know that we will always be together. Be happy, brother!”
Faria, 42, has been mentioned in some reports as a possible contender to succeed the departing Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager, and bookmakers cut his odds for that job after United’s announcement of his exit.
Speaking earlier this month, Mourinho said Faria would be a suitable fit for Arsenal, and added at the time: “If my friend has the possibility one day of a big job I would help him to pack and to carry the bags and to wish him luck.”
Others may be ahead of him in the running for the Arsenal job, with Massimiliano Allegri, Mikel Arteta and Brendan Rodgers among those also being linked with the Arsenal post.
And Faria indicted he may take a break from football before looking at where his career path next leads.
Faria said: “After a lot of consideration, and with a very heavy heart, I have decided the time is right for me to move on. I have had 17 years of incredible and unforgettable experiences.
“However, I have felt for some time that I would like to spend much more quality time with my family before pursuing any new challenge in my professional life.
“I would also like to thank Manchester United and all the clubs where I have had the privilege of working during this period.
“I would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to all the staff and players who, in different ways, have made an important contribution to my growth as a person and as a professional.
“I wish you all the best for the future, knowing that you will always be my close friends.”