Five seasons with an eagle on his chest, 213 matches (official and non-official), 37 goals, two titles… Rui Costa said goodbye to the football pitches on May 11th, 2008, precisely 10 years ago. It was the end of a unique career, written in shades of glory and that will remain etched in history forever.
Rui Costa began playing football at Damaia Ginásio Clube at the age of only five. Soon one realized he was a predestined. Four years later, he tried his luck at Sport Lisboa e Benfica trials and the King had no doubts. Eusébio was amazed and, at the age of nine, Rui Costa began his journey in his favorite Club grassroots, in which he went through all ranks.
That was followed by a loan spell at Fafe (1990/91) and return to Luz, where he wore the Eagles' jersey between 1991/92 and 1993/94, having won a National Championship and a Portuguese Cup.
Then Rui Costa moved to Italy! He played seven seasons at Fiorentina, where he won two Italian Cups and a Super Cup; and five at AC Milan, where he won one Italian Cup, one Champions League, one League Title and one European Super Cup.
In the 1994/95 season, Fiorentina was the opponent in the Benfica's presentation match to its members and supporters at the old Estádio da Luz. Rui Costa scored the only goal from Fiorentina (1-1)... and cried after scoring the goal he would later label as "the worst goal" of his career.
And finally, the return to Sport Lisboa e Benfica for two more seasons (2006/07 e 2007/08) with the Sacred Mantle and the farewell to the football pitches!
Do you remember? It was on May 11, 2008. Benfica finished the National Championship in the 4th place and, in the last round, the Estádio da Luz showed its best face to welcome Vitória de Setúbal… and said goodbye to the Maestro!
A 3-0 win, with goals from Katsouranis (25’), Cardozo (39’) and Nuno Gomes (88’)… And a 86th minute to remember forever! Fernando Chalana, at the helm of the team, brought on Binya to replace the Eagles's number 10!
Emotion, tears, smiles, gratitude, all to the sound of “I love Benfica”, chanted by the Benfica fans at a vibrant Estádio da Luz! It was so beautiful…
Rui Costa said goodbye to the football pitches at his home, leaving a unique record at a club level, but also in the National Team, where he played in 94 matches and scored 26 goals, with the highest point being the conquest of the U-20 World Cup in 1991… And he scored the last penalty in the triumph over Brazil at the Estádio da Luz.
A career characterized by the brilliance, a unique personality, elegance, intelligence and class inside the pitch… controlling the flow of the game like no other!
The Maestro gave his last recital on the pitch in 2008, but, at the age of 46, he continues representing Sport Lisboa e Benfica, currently as an administrator of the SAD.
Text: Sónia Antunes
Pics: SL Benfica