Lisbon:Jose Mourinho has decided he does not want to become England soccer coach.
The former Chelsea manager issued a statement on Monday that, after talks with Football Association officials Brian Barwick and Trevor Brooking, he had decided not to apply for the job.
"After Steve McClaren departed the England football team, my representatives had contacts with the FA," Mourinho said in a statement released through his agent, Jorge Mendes.
"Following that, I myself had interesting conversations with Brian Barwick and Trevor Brooking with whom I exchanged ideas with a view to evaluating the current situation of the English national team and the aims that would be pursued if I were in fact invited to take this post.
"After reflecting at length, I took the decision to exclude myself from the possibility of becoming the England manager even though I regard it as a wonderful job."
Mourinho's decision means that the FA, which fired McClaren three weeks ago after England failed to qualify for the 2008 European Championship, will now have to look elsewhere. Fabio Capello, Marcello Lippi and Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill are now the leading candidates.
Capello, the former AC Milan and Real Madrid coach, and Lippi, who led Italy to its World Cup triumph last year, are both available. Villa's American owner, Randy Lerner, has been quoted as saying he would not stand in O'Neill's way if England wanted to appoint him.
"I am sure the FA will hire a great manager who will be able to put the England team in the position where it belongs," Mourinho said. "I repeat that I have a lot of respect for English football and that after passing three good years in England, I firmly believe that country's national team will soon get back to winning ways."
Unlike Capello and Lippi, however, Mourinho would have been a popular choice because of his success in English soccer and knowledge of the England players.
Having moved to Stamford Bridge after winning the Champions League with FC Porto, he guided Chelsea to its first league championship in 50 years in 2005 and followed it up with another the following season. He also led the Blues to triumphs in the League Cup and FA Cup.
His decision not to go for the England role suggests he may be chasing another big job in club soccer.
There has been speculation that he might be interested in moving to AC Milan - if the Serie A club decided to part company with Carlo Ancelotti - or return to Barcelona, where he had a spell as assistant to Bobby Robson.