Andre Villas-Boas Quits Shanghai SIPG, Will Compete in 2018 Dakar Rally

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistNovember 29, 2017

SAITAMA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 18:  Andre Villas-Boas head coach of Shanghai SIPG looks prior to the AFC Champions League semi final second leg match between Urawa Red Diamonds and Shanghai SIPG at Saitama Stadium on October 18, 2017 in Saitama, Japan.  (Photo by Yifan Ding/Getty Images)
Yifan Ding/Getty Images

Andre Villas-Boas has left his position as manager of Shanghai SIPG and announced he will compete in the 2018 Dakar Rally in January.  

The Portuguese tactician will trade his touchline for the climes of South America and drive a Toyota Hilux in the annual cross-country race after he was talked down from riding a motorbike, per the Press Association (h/t Guardian):

"I spoke with my friend Alex Doringer, the manager of the KTM team, who told me that I would still need a full year’s preparation to get there and that it was better to consider doing it with a car. So I got in touch with Team Overdrive and here I am!"

The former Porto, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur chief's transition strikes as one of the more surprising career swings in recent football memory, bigger even than Rio Ferdinand's upcoming step into the boxing ring.

BBC Radio London reporter Nick Godwin illustrated just how surprising Wednesday's announcement was:

Villas-Boas will be joined by Portuguese countryman and rally-raid rider Ruben Faria as his co-driver, valuable experience to have considering the professional finished as runner-up in the 2013 Dakar Rally.

The Montreal Gazette's David Rudin previously attested to Villas-Boas' signals toward there being more to life other than football:

Villas-Boas joined Shanghai SIPG in November of last year but ended his maiden season in the Chinese Super League without a trophy, as the team finished runners-up in the Chinese Super League.

After mixed spells at Chelsea and Tottenham in the Premier League, he found moderate success with Russian giants Zenit Saint Petersburg, spending two season at the club between March 2014 and May 2016.

PA reported the 40-year-old's uncle participated in the 1982 Dakar Rally, which was run from the French capital of Paris to Dakar, the capital of Senegal.

The landscape of the race has changed much since then, and next year's edition will see Villas-Boas and a host of professional teams rally from Lima, Peru, to Cordoba, Argentina, winding through Bolivia along the way.

Drivers and riders have 37 days before the event begins on Saturday, January 6, at which point they'll embark upon a 15-day journey comprising more than 8,500 kilometres before reaching the finish on Saturday, January 20.

Villas-Boas' decision may have been in part helped by Shanghai SIPG's recent defeat to Shanghai Shenhua in the final of the Chinese FA Cup, with a return to football before the end of this season now looking unlikely.

Related

    Flash Gordon to the Rescue ⚡️

    Featured logo
    Featured

    Flash Gordon to the Rescue ⚡️

    Brad Gagnon
    via Bleacher Report

    What We've Learned About Each NFL Team

    Featured logo
    Featured

    What We've Learned About Each NFL Team

    Maurice Moton
    via Bleacher Report

    NBA's Advanced Analytics All-Stars

    Featured logo
    Featured

    NBA's Advanced Analytics All-Stars

    Zach Buckley
    via Bleacher Report

    Is A.J. Green a ‘Guaranteed’ HOFer?

    Featured logo
    Featured

    Is A.J. Green a ‘Guaranteed’ HOFer?

    Tyler Dunne
    via Bleacher Report