Much like most multi sports clubs best known for their football sections, SL Benfica are enormously successful. Their numbers speak for themselves: other than winning a record 37 Primeira Liga titles and more than 20 Taça de Portugal trophies, they have also claimed two consecutive European Cups in 1961 and 1962.
Thanks to their reputation of a working-class team, Benfica are by far the most popular Portuguese club, both in the country and worldwide.
Along with the two other members of the Portuguese “Big Three” – Porto and Sporting – Benfica have never been relegated from the top flight.
Sport Lisboa e Benfica, commonly known as Benfica, is a Portuguese sports club based in Lisbon, Portugal. It is best known for the professional football team playing in the Primeira Liga, the top flight of Portuguese football. Benfica are the current Portuguese champions, having won four consecutive league titles.
Founded in 1904 by a group of people led by Cosme Damião, Benfica is one of the “Big Three” clubs in Portugal that have never been relegated from the Primeira Liga – the other two are rivals Sporting CP and FC Porto.
The team is nicknamed Águias (Eagles) for the symbol atop the club’s crest, and Encarnados (Reds) for the shirt colour. Since 2003, their home ground has been the Estádio da Luz, which replaced the original one.
Benfica is the most supported Portuguese club, with an estimated fan base of 14 million supporters worldwide, and the European club with the highest percentage of supporters in its own country.
By the end of December 2016, it had 184,264 paying members. The club’s official anthem, “Ser Benfiquista”, refers to its supporters who are called Benfiquistas. Benfica is honoured in three Portuguese Orders: those of Christ, of Merit and of Prince Henry.
- Founded: 1904
- Country: Portugal
- City: Lisbon
- Campo da Feiteira (1906–1908)
- Campo de Sete Rios (1913–1917)
- Estádio das Amoreiras (1917–1923)
- Campo de Benfica (1925–1940)
- Estádio do Campo Grande (1940–1953)
- Estádio da Luz (1954–2003)
- Estádio da Luz (2003–)
- Primeira Liga: 37
- Taça de Portugal: 28
- European Cup: 2
Eusébio, José Torres, Costa Periera, Joaquim, Santana, Jose Aguas, Mário Coluna, Nené, Mats Magnusson, Stefan Schwarz, Jonas Thern, Karel Poborský, Rui Costa, Nuno Gomes, Javier Saviola, Ángel Di María, Pablo Aimar, David Luiz, Óscar Cardozo, João Félix
- Most games played: Nené (575)
- Top goalscorer: Eusébio (473)
Becoming A Big Club In European Football
It was, however, in the 60s where Benfica started making a name for itself on the European stage. Led by the incredible Eusébio, Benfica were the first team to halt Real Madrid’s streak of five consecutive European Cup victories, claiming the trophy for themselves in 1961.
They repeated as champions the following year, while also making three more finals throughout the decade. Domestically, Benfica destroyed the opposition and stormed to 8 Primeira Ligas and 3 Taça de Portugals by the end of the decade.
In 1965, Eusébio made history by becoming the only player to win a Ballon d’Or while playing for a Portuguese club.
The following two decades saw Porto and Sporting mature into contenders, but Benfica remained the number one club in the country. In the period from 1970 to 1996, Benfica claimed 13 Primeira Liga titles and 10 Taça de Portugal trophies.
At the same time, further European success was proving elusive, even after the club made a huge financial push towards the end of the 80s.
While that did result in two European Cup finals (1988 and 1990), PSV Eindhoven and AC Milan would eventually prove too strong.
The rampant spending finally caught up with the club in the mid-90s. The financial crisis that followed saw Benfica drop off the map for a while, and the club ended the century with a couple of disappointing mid-table finishes.
After a drought that lasted eight years, the club finally won their 24th Taça de Portugal by defeating Porto in the final. Since then, Benfica have claimed an additional four Primeira Liga titles and one Taça de Portugal trophy, cementing their return to the big stage.
In thes 2013-2014 season Benfica won the “Treble”, including Primeira Liga, Taça de Portugal and Taça da Liga (the latter founded as late as in 2007), for the first time.