Like many of its European counterparts, football in Portugal has an extensive and storied history. The nation’s favorite sport has been played for hundreds of years. While the current generation refers to Cristiano Ronaldo more than any other Portuguese player, the names of Luis Figo and Eusebio are also well known. However, even before these players put Portugal on the world football map, the sport had become very popular in the country.
However, surprisingly, despite producing some of the best footballers in history, Portugal has for the most part lagged behind their superior European counterparts, while the country’s youth team has enjoyed impressive success in Europe and the rest of the world. But more on that later; let’s first look at how football has developed in Portugal over time.
History of football in Portugal
Football first appeared in Portugal in the mid to late 1800s when Portuguese students studying in England returned to their country with a newfound interest and passion for the sport. In the years that followed, football quickly became popular throughout the country and became a beloved sport.
The first organized football match was held in Portugal in 1875 in Madeira by Harry Hinton, who brought a football from England, where he studied. The spread of the sport in the country can be attributed to the Pinto Basto brothers who ordered soccer balls from England and distributed them to military units to help spread its popularity and introduce locals to the sport.
The first football club in Portugal was formed in 1892, Club Lisbonense, founded by the Pinto Basto brothers and other pioneers who shared a love for the sport. The club played its first game against an English team from Carcavelos. Soon more clubs were formed, then more matches were organized and eventually regional football associations were formed.
In 1914, the country’s three regional associations merged into a national association called the União Portuguesa de Futebol. This association eventually became the forerunner of the Portuguese Football Federation, the modern official governing body of football in the country.
In the 1900s, Portugal’s attempt to integrate its colonies resulted in the inclusion of many African players on mainland football teams. The growing popularity of football in the colonies encouraged many people to take up the sport professionally. In the past, many of the best players from the Portuguese colonies have represented the country at international level in the national team and clubs.
Portugal national football team
The Portugal national football team has been playing internationally since 1921. The team played its first international match against Spain in Madrid. The first notable performance of the national team in a major international tournament was at the 1966 World Cup, where it reached the final. In 1986, the team also reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Euro, where they lost to France.
The peak of the national team came in the 1990s, when it began to participate steadily in the European and World Championships. The team made it to the semi-finals of the 2006 World Cup and finished 4th.th place. He also finished second at Euro 2004 and reached the final of the tournament in 2000 and 2012. At the time, players such as Rui Costa and Luis Figo were part of the team and helped the team succeed.
Portugal won the Euro 2016 final by beating France to advance to the FIFA Confederations Cup where they finished 3rd place. The country also hosted the Nations League in 2019 and won the final against the Netherlands. With Cristiano Ronaldo on the team, it was the team’s second major win in a short time. At the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Portugal reached the quarter-finals, where they lost to Morocco. At the moment, the Portuguese national team is in 9th place.th place in the FIFA rankings.
Domestic football competitions in Portugal
The Primeira Liga is the highest level of national football competition in Portugal. It includes the country’s three big clubs, including Porto, Sporting CP and Benfica. It was formed in 1938 and currently has 18 teams. The current league champion is FC Porto, who have won 30th title this year. However, the most successful team is SL Benfica who have won the title 37 times.
The Primeira Liga is followed by a promotion and relegation system with Liga Portugal 2 formed in 1990. It is the second largest professional football division in the country with 18 teams. The premium football tournament in Portugal is Taca de Portugal. It is open to professional and amateur clubs from the country’s four top leagues. Defending Champion 155th the edition of the tournament is FC Porto and the team with the most wins is Benfica.