Sven-Göran Eriksson, who on February 5th completes 70 years of age, arrived at Lisbon in 1982 to coach Benfica.
Signed by the president Fernando Martins, the 34-year-old Swedish coach, rolled up his sleeves and transformed the football of the Reds with tactics that favored the attack and at the same time secured triumphs. That was how Sweden arrived at Benfica.
Eriksson made his debut as Benfica's coach with a win (0-1, a goal from Humberto Coelho) in the 1982/83 season, in a match from the opening round of the National Championship against Espinho, at Campo Condes Dias Garcia, in São João da Madeira. It was just the beginning of a successful connection.
The Swedish had two spells at Benfica: the first between 1982 and 1984 and the second between 1989 and 1992. He led the Reds to the National Title in 1982/83, winning also the Portuguese Cup (Double). He also took the team to the UEFA Cup final, but in a two-legged final, the Belgian of Anderlecht had the upper hand (2-1). In 1983/84 he won the Championship again (Two-time Champions).
In his return, in 1989, he reached the European Cup Final, where he lost against AC Milan (1-0). The triumphs did not stop there and in 1990/91 he was once again champion.
STRÖMBERG, THE FIRST PLAYER
Eriksson opened the door to Swedish players at Benfica: the first of them all was Glenn Strömberg, in 1982/83. He arrived from Gotemburg, the previous club of Sven-Göran, where he had been his coach, the centre-midfielder arrived on Portuguese soil for the first time in January 1983, already with the season underway, making his official debut with Benfica’s jersey on February 5th, 1983 (precisely 35 year ago) in a match from Matchweek 18 of the National Championship, against V. Setúbal at Estádio da Luz. The final result of that encounter was a 1-all draw.
Glenn Strömberg played for Benfica for two seasons, having made 44 matches and scored six goals. He won two National Championships (1982/83 and 1983/84) and one Portuguese Cup (1982/83).
MAGNUSSON, THE GOAL SCORER
In 1987 it was the forward Mats Magnusson’s turn to integrate the Reds’ squad. On September 12th, 1987, he made his debut at Estádio da Luz, in a match from Gameweek 4 of the Championship, against Marítimo.
He represented the Reds during five seasons (1987 to 1992), he played 163 matches and was one of the best foreign goal scorers in the Club’s history, with 87 goals.
With an eagle on his chest, Magnusson racked up three trophies: Two National Championships (1988/89, 1990/91) and a Cândido de Oliveira Super Cup (1989). In addition, he was the League’s Top scorer with 33 goals, in 1989/90.
THERN IN ERIKSSON’S SECOND SPELL
Still in the 1980’s, besides Magnusson, Benfica received another Swedish international: Jonas Thern, of 21 years, signed to Malmoe, arrived at Portugal in 1989 by the hand of Eriksson, in the moment the coach was discussing his return to Benfica.
On August 26th, 1989, Thern made his Benfica debut, at Estádio Municipal de Guimarães, in Gameweek 2 of the Championship. V. Guimarães and Benfica got a 1-all draw, with the goal from the Reds being scored by Mats Magnusson, at 49’.
Thern wore the Sacred Mantle for three seasons (1989/90 to 1991/92), where he made 101 matches and scored 10 goals.
He won one National Championship (1990/91) and a Cândido de Oliveira Super Cup (1989).
SCHWARZ, THE VERSATILE LEFT-FOOTED PLAYER
In 1990, the Benfiquistas hosted Stefan Schwarz. He played three seasons at Benfica, made 111 matches and scored 10 goals. The left-footed defender/midfielder made his debut on August 25, 1990, on the pitch and on the score sheet. Gameweek 2 of the National Championship was played at Estádio Municipal de Guimarães and Benfica beat Vitória by 0-2, with Schwarz opening the scoring, at 4’, and with his Jonas Thern doubling the lead at 43’.
With regard to titles, Schwarz, the fourth Swedish player to have a spell at Luz, he won two National Championships (1990/91, 1993/94), playing for “his favorite club” and also a Portuguese Cup (1992/93).
PRINGLE, THE DISCRETE FORWARD
In 1996 arrived Martin Pringle, the fifth Swedish player to represent Benfica. He made 55 appearances, scored eight goals, but did not win any title during the three seasons he wore the red jersey. (1996/97, 1997/98, 1998/99).
He stepped on the pitch of Estádio da Luz for the first time on October 21st, 1996, in Matchweek 7 of the Championship, in a 2-0 win over Estrela da Amadora.
ANDERSSON ALSO FILLED HIS CURRICULUM
Anders Andersson, at the time with 26 years, made his first game for Benfica on August 11, 2001, at the Stadium of Varzim SC, coming in to replace Ljubinko Drulovic, at 78’. In the opening round of the Championship, refereed by Isidoro Rodrigues, Benfica got a 2-all draw against Varzim (goals from Zlatko Zahovic at 15’ and from Fernando Meira at 47’).
The midfielder represented the Reds for three seasons (2001/02, 2002/03 and 2003/04), in which he made 57 games and scored one goal (on April 12th, 2002, at Luz, in the 4-0 thrashing of Paços de Ferreira, in Matchweek 31 of the Championship). He added one Portuguese Cup (2003/04) to his resumé.
LINDELÖF, THE MOST TITLED PLAYER
The most recent Swedish to integrate the Reds squad was Victor Lindelöf, who joined Benfica in 2013/14. He remained at the Club until the last season (2016/17), when he transferred to Manchester United. He made 73 matches with an eagle on his chest (54W 10D 9L) and scored two goals.
He wore the Sacred Mantle for the first time on October 18th, 2013, at Estádio Municipal Prof. Cerveira Pinto, in the 3rd round of the Portuguese Cup, where Benfica beat Cinfães by 1-0, with a goal scored by Ola John, at 52’.
Lindelöf was the seventh and last Swedish player, up to now, to have a spell at Luz, being also the one who won more trophies with Sport Lisboa e Benfica: three National Championships, two Portuguese Cups, one League Cup and one Cândido de Oliveira Super Cup.
Text: Márcia Dores
Pics: Archive / SL Benfica