Best Portuguese Footballers of All Time
Right, our next mash up XI is here as we take a look at the best Portuguese footballers. We all know they’ve had some huge talents over the years but what does their all time dream team look like? Here we find out and they’ll be lining up with a 4-3-3 formation and, be forewarned, it somewhat of an attacking line up.
So, who makes our team of the best Portuguese footballers?
GK – Rui Patricio
Between the sticks for our best Portuguese footballers XI is Rui Patricio; it was a relatively straightforward choice too. The goalkeeper that has recently joined Jose Mourinho’s Roma has accrued more national team appearances than any other keeper and is just three caps off a round 100. Patricio isn’t amongst the best goalkeepers in the world but for club and country he’s a steady 7/10 every match making very few mistakes and helping those in front of him remain calm.
His club career has seen him rack up well over 300 appearances for Sporting where he won several cups before a move to Wolves; he showed he could cut it in the big leagues and Serie A is next up. For a man that has helped his nation win the European Championship, keeping goal in Italy should be a doddle.
RB – Joao Pinto
Joao Pinto is regarded as one of the best right backs of all time and, although he misses out on our top right backs, his place in this team of the best Portuguese footballers was a no brainier. He spent all bar one year of his career in his homeland representing four clubs. Benfica and Sporting were the sides that saw his best years with Pinto racking up 436 appearances for those clubs; in that time the attack minded Pinto netted a rather mental 121 goals.
On the international stage Pinto won 81 caps across an 11 year spell after first helping Portugal win back to back under 20 World Cups in 1989 and 1991. Medals didn’t follow at senior level with a third place finish at Euro 2000 the closest Pinto and co came.
CB – Pepe
There are certain players in football that you hate to play against but would love if they played for your team. Pepe might be the best example of this ever. The now Porto centre back can be a man mountain when backs are against the wall but a complete fairy the next to buy a free kick; it’s the stuff you love to see. It’s certainly worked wonders for Pepe anyway.
After starting out in his homeland with Maritimo, Pepe joined Porto where he won back to back titles and a Taca de Portugal. Then Real Madrid came sniffing and the hard man defender would spend a decade in the Spanish capital winning a trio of La Liga’s and three Champions Leagues amongst other honours. After a spell with Besiktas, Pepe rejoined Porto and, lo and behold, he’s won more silverware. Oh, he was in the Euro 2016 squad too so has a winners medal to show alongside his 119 Portugal caps.
CB – Ricardo Carvalho
If you’ve got Pepe for bite, fight and grit then why not have a bit of brain alongside him. That’s what Ricardo Carvalho specialised in; at 6’0 he was far from the biggest centre back but his reading of the game was exceptional. He could also play out from the back very well too. In terms of his career, well, Carvalho was a Mourinho disciple for much of it; he started at Porto winning leagues, domestic cups and European trophies.
Then he followed ‘The Special One’ to Chelsea where he won five major honours before once again being signed by Mourinho at Real Madrid. A Copa Del Rey and La Liga title would be his last honours as a player ahead of his moves to Monaco and, briefly, Shanghai. For Portugal, he won Euro 2016 and made a total of 89 appearances.
LB – Raphael Guerreiro
Okay, let’s level with you. Left back was the hardest spot to fill in this XI. We’ve narrowly opted for Raphael Guerreiro over Fabio Coentrao. Guerreiro was actually born in France but was raised as a die hard Benfica fan; despite this he’s yet to ply his trade in Portugal’s domestic league.
Instead Guerreiro has tasted football in Ligue 1 and the German Bundesliga where he plays for Borussia Dortmund. Of course, the full back has formed part of an impressive generation with the Portugal national side though and his contributions at Euro 2016, which Portugal won, saw him make the team of the tournament. That’s good enough for us.
CDM – Joao Moutinho
When it comes to the best Portuguese footballers Joao Moutinho isn’t the sexiest name around – and Rui Costa can count himself unfortunate to miss out – but his place in this team is for good reason. Firstly, we thought we should at least have one midfielder with a defensive mindset. More importantly though, Moutinho has more caps for the A Selecao than all but one player.
In total he’s donned his country’s colours 135 times; you can throw in several other appearances at youth level where he helped them win the World U17 Championship in 2003. Moutinho was also in the team that won Euro 2016 (he provided the assist for the winner) but it’s far from the only place he’s enjoyed success. The now Wolves man has enjoyed time with Sporting, Porto and Monaco winning eight major trophies including three Liga NOS crowns, a Ligue 1 title and the Europa League.
CM – Mario Coluna
The Benfica and Portugal teams of the Sixties are often dominated by a different name but Mario Coluna was right up there in terms of quality and impact. The Mozambique born Portuguese national played over 500 games for a Benfica side that dominated football both on a domestic and European level.
During his 16 years with the Eagles he scored a whopping 127 goals collecting 18 honours; included in that trophy haul was two European Cups and 10 league titles. He also racked up 57 international appearances; Coluna was in the Portugal team that finished third at the 1966 World Cup after being knocked out by England’s World Cup winning team.
CM – Deco
Deco’s early career was somewhat bonkers when you consider the player he became. He started out in his native Brazil but only managed a handful of appearances for Corinthians before joining CSA. Again, he barely kicked a ball before heading to Europe with Benfica. That didn’t work out either; the manager Graeme Souness – who now works alongside the likes of Gary Neville on Sky Sports – decided he wasn’t what the team needed. Eventually, after two other spells in Portugal, Deco found Porto. Boy did he show what the others were missing out on.
He starred there for five seasons. The ultimate dream was realised in the form of a league and Champions League double. Barcelona followed where two La Liga and a second Champions League were added to his trophy cabinet before ending his European adventure with Chelsea; that spell included an FA Cup and two Premier League wins. The 75 cap Portugal man finished his career back in Brazil…winning silverware with Fluminense.
RW – Cristiano Ronaldo
What can you say about Cristiano Ronaldo that hasn’t already been said a million times? For our money, he is the greatest footballer there has ever been. He started at Sporting then joined Manchester United and tore it up there in the shape of seven major honours. Then came Real Madrid where a further eight followed, four of which were the Champions League.
More recently he’s obviously been in Italy with Juventus where another three big time medals have been banked. The guy is a machine and five Ballon d’Or wins is a crazy achievement. On top of all that success he’s also led Portugal to Nations League and Euro success . Oh, and he’s 100% going to retire as the standalone international top scorer of all time.
LW – Luis Figo
When Luis Figo was lighting the Portuguese national team during the nineties and early 2000’s most people thought it would be a long time until they saw someone eclipse his talent. It wasn’t because of Mr CR7 but that takes nothing away from how damn good Figo was. Pace, power, skill and lethal end product defines his style of play in a nutshell; it’s those attributes that saw him play for some of the best clubs in the world.
Like Ronaldo, he started out at Sporting before heading to La Liga with first Barcelona and then, for a world record fee of nearly £60m, Real Madrid. Across those two clubs he laid on more assists than anyone else in history (since broken by Lionel Messi) before ending his career at Inter Milan. All in all he won 14 major honours (at least one with each club) and scooped a Ballon d’Or win in 2000.
ST – Eusebio
Forget being one of the best Portuguese footballers Eusebio is one of the best strikers of all time. Eusebio was actually born in Mozambique and it was there where his career began with CD Maxaquene; his goalscoring record for them was rather insane though and caught the attention of Benfica. He would go on to spend the vast majority of his career with the Eagles. As a player, he could do absolutely everything; he could come deep and hold the ball up, he could spin in behind and, as for scoring goals, it didn’t matter where the chances came; they were simply dispatched with consummate ease.
In terms of statistics, Eusebio hit 473 goals in just 440 goals for Benfica with his career club tally standing at 580 in 575 games. Then there is the impact he had on the Portugal national side, which was 41 goals in 61 caps. It’s not all about sticking the ball in the net though. It’s also about what those goals contribute to. For Eusebio, that was a Ballon d’Or, a World Cup Golden Boot and 17 major honours with Benfica; the biggest of which was the 1961/62 European Cup.
There you have it, the best Portuguese footballers of all time.