|Patrick Vieira during NYCFC's US Open Cup game with the Red Bulls last Wednesday. USA Today Sports.|
Patrick Vieira will be departing New York City Football Club after two-plus years as head coach to take over at OGC Nice in France.
City Football Group, which owns Manchester City and NYCFC, announced Vieira will join Nice immediately.
Vieira joined NYCFC in January 2016 and was a part of City Football Group for more than eight years beginning as a Manchester City player in 2010, followed by a position as an ambassador at the club, a role which saw him work in multiple football departments and which enabled him to make an informed choice about his next career steps.
Vieira's first coaching position with with the Manchester City Elite Development Squad and ultimately fulfilled his goal of becoming a Head Coach of a first team by joining NYCFC.
Vieira led NYCFC to the MLS Playoffs in his two full seasons as coach, and this season, they are in second place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 8-3-4, 28 points.
“I would like to thank City Football Group and New York City FC for the opportunity to have coached this tremendous football club." Vieira said in a statement. "Leaving New York is an incredibly difficult decision for me and for my family and one that has not been taken lightly.
“From the beginning, City Football Group and its leadership, particularly our Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak, Brian Marwood, Ferran Soriano and Marty Edelman have believed in me and have helped guide me through the last eight years of my career – starting with my time as a player and ultimately culminating with my first opportunity to manage a First Team.”
Vieira has reportedly agreed to a three-year contract with OGC Nice, and he is taking most of his staff, including Assistant Coach, Christian Lattanzio, Performance Coach, Kristian Wilson, and Physical Performance Coach, Matt Cook.
“Having the opportunity to be a Head Coach in New York is something many dream of," said Vieira. "Our incredibly passionate fans have made this one of the most special experiences I’ve had in football. Thank you to each and every one of you that stands by the team day in and day out.
“From the fantastic staff in the front office, the outstanding sporting department lead by Claudio Reyna and the immensely talented players, New York City FC is a Club with a wonderful future ahead of it – I will always be a fan and it will hold a special place in my heart.”
New York City FC Vice Chairman Marty Edelman spoke of Vieira’s leadership skills and his transition into first team management.
“Khaldoon and I have been fortunate to know Patrick since he joined City Football Group in 2010," said Edelman in a statement. "After being one of the most revered and successful players in the world, it has been a pleasure for us to watch his transition into coaching.
“Patrick has been a fantastic role model at NYCFC and a true leader on and off the field. We know that leaving the Club has been a difficult decision for him but we understand his choice to return to Europe where he spent his whole playing career.
“Patrick leaves us in great shape to continue our encouraging campaign and our goals for the season remain the same. We have the most talented and balanced roster of players since the Club was formed. There has been a strategic and long-term approach to building a squad which Patrick has supported.
“On behalf of all at CFG and NYCFC I would like to thank Patrick for his hard work and commitment while at the Club. We wish him every success in the future and look forward to following his coaching career.”
The move to Nice is a natural for Vieira, who was a member of the French national team that won the 1998 World Cup.
Vieira's record as NYCFC head coach was 39-27-22.