33 names, not always consensual, of 33 men who, helped by many others, have made Benfica the biggest Portuguese club and one of the biggest in the world.
Since Janúario Barreto, Ferreira Bugalho and until the current president Luís Filipe Vieira, this section contains a small biography of all the Benfica’s history presidents, as well as their creations, titles won and own difficulties.
The longest term presidency
This board have created the associative, financial and sporting stability which has allowed the return to football conquers.
Experienced in SAD’s administration and playing a crucial part in the construction of the new stadium, Luís Filipe Vieira overcame the chaotic financial situation and brought back the much desired titles and Benfica was four-time champion for the very first time. The team also returned to the European finals. Other sports met a new cycle of national and international conquests as well. A true businessman with meritorious vision, it was under his leadership that Benfica became the Club with more associate members in the world. Using the electronic voting system Benfica’s democratic decentralization was enhanced. Two pavilions and the pool were built, and the Training Centre (2006) and the Museum (2013) were inaugurated; finally the dream came true. He received the Águia de Ouro (Golden Eagle) in 2006.
Stadium building decision
He managed, with dignity, to get the “necessary and sufficient” union to move on.
With previous management experience, Manuel Vilarinho had a mandate of credibility replacement, solving several problems, created by the two previous administrations. The Benfica Futebol SAD (PLC) was reformulated, and it became a club’s possession in its great majority. The decision of building a new stadium was historic, on the 28th of September 2001, which was built in a “record” time period and inaugurated on the 25th of October 2003. Manuel Vilarinho leaved with the supporter’s gratitude, obtaining the “Águia de Ouro” attribution in 2004.
Troubled, inadequate and mindless time
A mandate characterized by many controversy, with few accomplishments before the elections high expectations.
A management which led the club to one of the most troubled periods of its History. Without any football title, the opportunity given to José Mourinho, who had his appearance as a football manager in Benfica, comes out as a positive moment (September 2000), and David Plaza’s individual and collective triumph in Volta a Portugal (Cycling - 1999). In 2000, he constituted the football SAD (PLC). With the end of his management, the judicial problems in which he was involved and condemned came out, some of them causing serious damage to the club. As a consequence, he was kicked out as member, on the 13th of May 2005, at the Assembly.
Two mandates in one
A management with large initiatives, several measures taken but with low results.
The management has begun, in football, with the Championship title (1994) and with a membership admission campaign, full of success (48 thousand got in, overtaking one hundred thousand) in order to exceed the financial problems. Elected for three years, the mandate has come to an end in July 1996 as a consequence of not winning football titles. Elections were called and he was re-elected for the triennium (1996 to 1999), which, abruptly, has come to an end in 1997. With the football getting worst, the incapacity of having revenues and the Football SAD (PLC) not approved, the decision was making elections.
Financial problems and short mandate
A management characterized by the consequent instability caused by the 1993 summer events, which did not allow the triennial mandate conclusion.
Vice-president during João Santos’s second mandate, with a decisive financial support, got his management interrupted: a mandate supposed to end in mid-1995, has come to an end with the election anticipation. By the end of 1993, in Assembly, he quit due to last summer financial problems. He offered several and relevant efforts, just like the anonymous donation of the athletics track (1974), the financial support for buying footballers and the eclecticism bet. The football team won the Portuguese Cup (1993). He was “Águia de Ouro” (1973).
The return to great European finals
There were five outstanding football seasons - Two European finals in three seasons- and in all the other sports.
In a two mandates divided management, the last one biennial and the first one triennial, we played the European Club Champions Cup, in 1988 and 1990. In the first mandate, the football team won, simultaneously, the Campeonato Nacional (National Championship) and the Taça de Portugal (Portuguese Cup (1986/87), and returned to triumphs in 1989 and 1991 by winning the Campeonato Nacional. The eclecticism was getting stronger, with Championships and Portuguese Cups won in several sports, from handball to Chess, emphasizing the Swimming, with its best period ever in the country.
The stadium third “ring” for 120 thousand people
An expansive “Benfiquista” mandate, with the stadium capacity extension to 120 thousand people.
Before being a president, he had an intense associative activity, in commissions connected to the patrimony. The stadium, with the third “ring” execution (1985), became the biggest one in Europe and the third one in the world (120 thousand seats). Under the control of the Swedish Manager Eriksson, the football team became twice in a row National Champions (1983 and 1984) and also went to the top of Europe, playing in 1983 the UEFA Cup final. During his administration good revenues were obtained, as well as the advertisement on the football team shirts (1984/85). He was “Águia de Ouro” (1984).
Diplomacy and Sportsmanship
The remarkable Borges Coutinho’s management was an icon in the Sports Intervention, because he knew how to predict the future.
Affable, persuasive and diplomat personality, in addition to the importance he had in the Portuguese sports management, he knew how to get concordance, validate business proposals and obtain an unit among the people and their sensibilities. The football hegemony was consolidated during those years: seven national titles (1972/73 - No goals conceded) and three Portuguese Cups. In 1969, all the soils around the stadium became a Benfica’s possession, in order to create three football fields (with two grass fields), a synthetic athletic track and eight tennis courts. Was “Águia de Ouro” (1973).
End of the traditional “only Portuguese men” teams
The low European football performance has touched, negatively, (once more...) an ambitious meant to be mandate.
The first administration, with the football team as National Champions (1967), was characterized by financial problems as a consequence of the European quick elimination. In the second one the swimming pool was inaugurated (1978), the Secretary was bought (1981) and the pavilion number 2 was also inaugurated, in 1982. In 1978, the proposal for dealing with foreign footballers was approved at the Assembly. The Football team was champion again (1981). In 1979, the diamond weeding was being commemorated. He was “Águia de Ouro” (1980).
The return of Béla Guttmann
A mandate characterized by the wrong decision of the twice European Champion manager coming back (1961 and 1962).
The return of the twice European Champion (1961 and 1962) was the biggest decision. Elected on the 8th of May 1965, he only took possession on the 31st of May, in order to allow the previous administration to finish their job, with two things done: The pavilion inauguration (May 15) and the European final (May 27). In 1965/66, the sports results were far from the expected, although the investment, it was reflected in the counts, impairing the financial stability. Arising from a Benfica’s dedicated supporter’s family, from Alpiarça, who had given a lot to the club, he was a “Sócio Benemérito”, in 1966.
Two European Champion Clubs Cup finals
There was a time of great accomplishments, a mandate that has turned even bigger an already glorious club.
During his first management the pavilion was inaugurated, situated inside the stadium, and the Football team played the fourth European Champions Cup in five years, against Inter... at Milan. A 1-0 final lost, with the defender Germano, at minute 57, as an improvised goalkeeper and the team playing with ten players. In the second management, the Football team was, in 1968 and for the fifth time in eight years, in an European final, lost, in London, against the English champion, at the extra-time. He was “Sócio Benemérito” (1959) and “Águia de Ouro” (1965).
Administration of continuity
The great consecration of the Bi-European Championship, something unprecedented in Portugal.
Vice president of the last management, came after Maurício Vieira de Brito, becoming a Bi-European champion, in 1962. There were the golden years of the club’s History: the football team was strongly required to play overseas, all around the world. Benfica had huge European revenues and the possibility to buy the best Portuguese players. After leaving the presidency, and even without occupying a role in the directive board, he was always very dedicated, making several commissions, throughout four decades. He was distinguished with the “Águia de Ouro”, in 1962.
Fundamental to the European victories
The “Benfiquista” Sports golden years (and Portuguese), the stadium appreciation and the conquer of the European championship.
He was the one who, probably, the more had financed the club, not only during his first management but also after his retirement. In Football, in 1961, we won the first European Champions Cup and in 1962 was crucial in the second. He hired the manager Béla Guttmann (1959) and Eusébio (1960). He became a national bi-champion (1960 and 1961). Was responsible for the stadium works: Illumination (1958) and the third “ring” first phase (1960, with 75 thousand seats), all changes financed by himself. He was elected “Sócio Benemérito” (1958) and “Águia de Ouro” (1960).
The “Stadium man”
There were five high level years, turning the club modernized and towards excellency.
“Águia de Ouro” since 1938, he came to the presidency with a goal: to build the stadium. The works started on the 14th of June 1953 and it was inaugurated on the 1st of December 1954, with two “rings” (stands all around the field) and 35 thousand seats. On that “Stadium Saga”, he put the supporters together, to get it viable. He won, twice, the Championship and the Portuguese Cup at the same season. The members number almost duplicated, between 1951 (16.534) and 1956 (36.839). By the time of the golden weeding (1954), with the manager Otto Glória, he had professionalized the Football, hired excellent footballers and created the “Lar do Jogador” (Nursing home).
First European triumph: Taça Latina (Latin Cup)
Some associative stability led to the return of national titles and to the achievement of the Latin Cup, the first European victory of a Portuguese club.
Former Lisbon Civil Governor, it was in his management that Football, in 1949/50, beyond the return to a National Championship, have reached the first international great achievement, by winning the Latin Cup. The edification of Estádio da Luz was in everybody’s agenda. Meetings and Assemblies were happening in order to prepare the works, commissions were being constituted and the completed project by the architect João Simões (former Footballer) was being delivered to the Lisbon Chamber, in 1951.
Passed away during his presidency
When there were conditions to pacify the club, Benfica was touched by misfortune, with the president’s death.
President of the Assembly in 1946/47, he was decisive to the club’s serenity after the previous elections, in 1946. He moved on with the necessary measures to build the next stadium, urgently, because of the low Campo Grande’s field capacity. With 15 thousand members, no more were accepted. Military engineer and an active politician since the end of the monarchy, he was a minister during the 1st Republic (three decades earlier), reaching the head of government after the murder of Sidónio Pais. He was re-elected on the 30th of January 1948, but he did not manage to conclude his mandate, as he passed away on the 15th of December.
President of the three Social Organs
A bunch of excellent board directors gave some brilliance to the work initiated by the former administrators.
Doctor, former footballer, was the president of the Assembly between 1935 and 1939. The beginning of the administration was difficult, by consequence of the Amoreiras’s expropriation and the Campo Grande’s stands works. With no field of play or training sessions, the football was living a troubled season, with the finances getting very low. But, the Campo Grande would be inaugurated in 1941. The Football team, in 1942 and 1943 was national bi-champion and the members number raised from 4.805 (in 1940) to 12.453 (in 1944). In 1942, the first “O Benfica” newspaper came out. In 1951/52 he became the supervisory board president, becoming the only one to lead the three organs.
A remarkable and eloquent orator
A mandate where Ribeiro da Costa stood out, former orator with an extreme dedication to his favourite club - An example to all of us.
Captain of the Army, former footballer, was the Assembly Vice-President between 1935 and 1938. Billiards (1938) and Volleyball (1939) were initiated. The way he, strongly, defended the club (he was a great orator) brought him troubles in the sporting hierarchy, intensified with the opposition of the important people in the politic organization. It led him to understand the incompatibility with the presidency. He would have other charges just like being the Assembly president in the next mandates. In 1986, he went to the member’s podium as number one and, in 1991, was “Águia de Ouro”.
Dreaming big - Stadium and Swimming Pool
Vasco Ribeiro’s election meant a deep changing in the President’s profile.
During his management a Portugal championship was won, in the first “Dérbi de Lisboa” final (V 2-1), with an attendance record in the country (30 thousand people), as well as the conquer of the I Liga second edition, becoming national champion for the first time. In 1934, the secretary in Rua Jardim do Regedor was rented, where the Sala das Taças (Museum) was born, with 350 trophies, something new in sports. In 1935, we overcame the 5 thousand members. They were dreaming about the Amoreiras transformation into a magnificent stadium, with a pool in the enclosure.
15/08/1930 – 28/08/1933
04/11/1936 – 31/07/1938
19/01/1946 – 25/01/1947
Workman, eloquent and diligent
A management defined by the President’s attitude, Manuel da Conceição Afonso, humble linotyper workman at Imprensa Nacional, but with great objectives, which take him into an unmistakable gallery.
Typographer of easy word, played several roles during three seasons, being a president in three different periods. In the first one, an unique Portuguese Bi-championship was won (1930 and 1931), in 1932/33 the Lisbon champion title. In 1932, the handball has begun, to play with eleven athletes. In the second mandate, the first national “tri” (1936-1938) was achieved. In the last one, in order to solve the stadium problem, one of his most important appearances was the visit, in 1946, to the Public Services Minister, where the returning to Benfica was decided.
Football deep changes
A great management, with administrators of an irreproachable “Benfiquismo” (Benfica’s passion), responsible for the club’s ascension into an enormous civic status and a renowned institution, inside the Portuguese society.
In the three initial mandates, there was the General-Captain Ribeiro dos Reis, in a period of lack of football victories (Despite of the valiant conquers in the low categories). With the financial situation getting better it was built, next to Amoreiras stadium, a field for a new sport, basketball (1927). The table tennis also came out (1928). By changing the players hiring policy, the Campeonato de Portugal was won, in 1930, for the first time. In 1929, he was the president, when the biggest Portuguese club was commemorating the silver weeding.
Brilliance, longevity and a stadium
A management defined by the extraordinary President, Bento Mântua, who was elected for eight mandates.
He came to the presidency in a difficult time, taking care of all debts. Playwright, meritorious (developing the roller skating, the roller hockey and field hockey, as well as the rugby), he had a good management. In 1917, the Football’s debut was at the back of the club’s headquarters, as the Sete Rios’s land owner was asking for an unbearable income. In 1925, the Amoreiras field was inaugurated, club’s property (finally after 21 renting years in different city places), with the member’s enthusiasm, who were more than one thousand by 1921 and more than three thousand four years later.
A bunch of administrators - Breakdown
An incomplete mandate caused by, some of the elected, lacking of democratic culture which is in the Benfica’s essence (origin and development).
The three first months, as a president, were not peaceful, mostly because of the negative effects of World War I, with social and political instability in the country, originating a deep crisis to the financial revenues. The existing discomfort in the club was contributing to the directive board breakdown. A group of members, with Cosme Damião on the “head”, got a loan to liquidate the urgent debts, solving a part of the situation. The football team was Lisbon Champion, a title that we only missed once(1914/15), between 1911/12 and 1917(18).
A pionner always at the club’s service
A short but intense mandate, 83 days which have changed, forever, the Benfica’s social profile.
Consecrated writer, he was an eclectic sportsman, at football (since 1905), athletics (first athlete), shot gunning sport and fencing. In 1908, was a “Sócio Benemérito”. Was elected, in 1916, to a mandate which purpose was taking care of Desportos de Benfica integration, giving to the club a magnificent headquarter, in Benfica, a football field, a roller skating rink, tennis courts and a shot gunning career. He came back to the presidency in 1945, almost 30 years later. In 1944/45, football became national champion and the headquarter was bought, after a renting period, since 1916.
Football most champion
Dr. José Antunes dos Santos was the “helmsman” of another brilliant management, with repercussion to the following years.
In his management, after being the Assembly Vice-president in the two previous mandates, the Football team became, for the second time, in 1915/16, Lisboa champion in the four categories, the third time that we won all titles (in 1909/10 there were only three categories). International matches were arranged in Sete Rios and the Tennis, Swimming and Water Polo facilities were getting better. In 1916, Cosme Damião, at the age of 30 (11 years as a footballer), said goodbye to his player career, moving on as General-Captain, and as an administrator/football manager combined role.
A short mandate in accordance with the approved statutes, was not a barrier to our administrator’s great achievements.
Management of short time, with the Statutes, elaborated by Alberto Lima (Vice-President) and Félix Bermudes, approved ate the Assembly in 1912, making a connection between the mandates and the civil years, which has contributed to the 1912’s elections. During the short management, they changed the peripheral Benfica’s neighborhood for the city center, in Baixa Pombalina, inaugurating, then, the Rossio’s headquarter, thinking about the member’s benefits, as it had an easier itineration. The club was out of the limits of Benfica and Belém for a long time (where its popularity was still very high).
Great achievements and unique conquers
A management with Dr. Alberto Lima as a president for the first time, after interim elections promoted by the Club’s board.
Had an eight months’ mandate, becoming a vice-president after that. He returned to the presidency within a management where the headquarter was being inaugurated, at Baixa (Rua Garret), initiating gymnastics (1913); He founded the club’s first newspaper “O Sport Lisboa”; Inaugurated the Sete Rios field, where swimming and tennis were initiating too. The football had its first “tri” in the Regional de Lisboa (1912, 1913 and 1914), with the virtue of winning in the four categories in 1914, with Cosme Damião, center midfielder and 1st category captain, as a football manager and administrator.
A “just like that” management
A poorly composed Directors-Board has resulted in its own breakdown and consequent interim elections.
His mandate was the shortest of Benfica’s History, less than four months (105 days), asking for elections after this period. The reasons why were, mainly, the impossibility of four board members (in a group of seven) to respond to the club’s needs and the own president’s business, which was taking himself into constant traveling. In this troubled period, Cosme Damião, who was elected vowel of the board of directors, was the one distinguished as the club’s strategic pillar.
First official football titles
This 416 days of mandate works go beyond this short period of time, because it had influence on the following years.
He was a Vice-president in the previous mandate. In 1910, the football team was a Lisboa’s champion for the first time and in the three existing categories (1st ,2nd and 3rd), with Cosme Damião as the Football leader. Athletics and Cycling were developed, respectively, by Francisco Lázaro and Alberto Albuquerque. He has founded the “Desportos de Benfica (1913) - which was, three years later, integrated in Sport Lisboa e Benfica. He came back to the board, as Vice-president, in 1916 and would be the supervisory board president and vice-president, from 1919 to 1924. Was a “Sócio Benemérito” (1908).
The president of the two clubs junction
It was in this management that the junction between Sport Clube de Benfica and the Grupo Sport Lisboa was completed, with the financial and sports consolidation of Sport Lisboa e Benfica.
Grupo Sport Benfica’s president (in February 1908, Sport Clube de Benfica), he became the Sport Lisboa e Benfica’s president by the time of Sport Club de Benfica’s and Grupo Sport Lisboa’s junction, on the 13th of September 1908. An agglutination of the emblems, which were never sporting rivals: the first one was specially dedicated to athletics and the second one to football. During the management, he stimulated social and sporting initiatives, solved financial problems and faced the demanding for a field, as the Feiteira’s owner was asking for a far to high income.
Prestigious man looking for solutions
Dr.Janúario Barreto was elected to offer a “social dimension”, a prestigious man inside the Lisbon society, keeping the previous executives of the first board.
In 1906, the Sport Lisboa was standing out, being considered, by the press, as the best Portuguese footballers group. But there were facilities missing. By the moment of the first board election, on the 22nd of November 1906, the three Administrative Commission members remained, with Janúario Barreto being elected as president - appreciated in sports world, renowned and familiar with the football rules, referee and a doctor. During his management, the club has won the first two trophies, in the Inter-Clubes do Internacional (CIF) tournament, 2nd and 3rd categories.
Eclectic, entrepreneur and organized
The Benfica’s board of directors were prestigious men inside the local society, practicing significant professions. Our 2nd president, major Faria Leal, was even the number one member.
The Grupo Sport Benfica was founded on the 26th of July 1906, in Benfica. The club was dedicated to Cycling and Athletics, owning a good field of play and an excellent board of directors. On the 12th of August 1906, he was designated as president and the charge was confirmed on the 18th of November 1906, at the Assembly. Was elected “Sócio Benemérito” (1909). The club’s eclectic nature, as well as its organization, have attracted lots of members, among them, the Grupo Sport Lisboa’s members, with Cosme Damião, the Sport Lisboa’s founder, who was the Grupo Sport Benfica’s number 81 member.
Founder, president and footballer
He will be forever connected to the “Glorioso” foundation, as well as to its organization and development, taking the first steps with security and sustainability, towards the greatness we all know, and even recognized by our opponents.
The elder brother among the three founders, was chosen by the 24 founders gathered in the 28th of February 1904, in a dependence of Farmácia Franco, in Belém, in order to take the lead of the three board directors Administrative Commission who were leading the Grupo Sport Lisboa’s first years (after 1908, Sport Lisboa e Benfica). Was a part of the football team which has played the one called as the Sport Lisboa’s first match, against the Grupo do Campo de Ourique, on the 1st of January 1905 (W 1-0), at Campo das Terras do Desembargador, Salésias, in Belém.