Portugal adorn world game

Football was brought to Portugal in the second half of the 19th century and has flourished ever since.

Cristiano Ronaldo lifts the Henri Delaunay trophy as Portugal celebrate winning UEFA EURO 2016
Cristiano Ronaldo lifts the Henri Delaunay trophy as Portugal celebrate winning UEFA EURO 2016 ©Getty Images

Football was brought to Portugal in the second half of the 19th century by a combination of young Portuguese men educated in the English public school system and British expatriates. The first recorded match was played in Cascais in October 1888.

Organised football began to emerge in the opening decade of the 20th century, and in 1910 the first regional association – the Associação de Futebol de Lisboa – was founded. Initially this comprised only three clubs, Sport Clube Campo de Ourique, Sport Clube Império and Sport Lisboa e Benfica, but by 1912 two more local associations had been established in Portalegre and Porto.

The Federação Portuguesa de Futebol (FPF) – the national body's official name from 28 May 1926 – started life as the União Portuguesa de Futebol (UPF), being formed on 31 March 1914 on the initiative of the three regional associations. During the First World War its activities were limited to organising annual matches between representative teams from Lisbon and Porto, yet its ambitions went beyond this narrow remit. The UPF's application to join FIFA was provisionally accepted in August 1914 and formally confirmed in May 1923. The name Federação Portuguesa de Futebol was adopted shortly afterwards, and the FPF became a founder member of UEFA in 1954.

The country's first national championship took place in Lisbon and Porto in 1933. A year later a modified version of the league competition was played with FC Porto winning the inaugural title. Sporting Clube de Portugal, SL Benfica and Porto have all enjoyed great domestic success since, with their dominance being broken only by CF Os Belenenses and Boavista FC, on one occasion each.

Benfica also won back-to-back European Champion Clubs' Cups, beating FC Barcelona 3-2 in the 1961 final and Real Madrid CF 5-3 the next season. Sporting overcame MTK Budapest 1-0 in a replay to take the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1964. Porto tasted glory two decades later by lifting the 1987 European Cup, defeating FC Bayern München 2-1. The northern side also landed the UEFA Super Cup at AFC Ajax's expense, and since the millennium have collected further silverware. Their 3-2 triumph over Celtic FC in the 2002/03 UEFA Cup final directly preceded 2004 UEFA Champions League glory in a 3-0 victory over AS Monaco FC. They then won the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League, beating SC Braga 1-0 in the first European final featuring two Portuguese sides.

Portugal's national-team debut was a 3-1 friendly loss to Spain in Madrid on 18 December 1921. Their first notable achievement was to qualify for the Olympic football tournament in Amsterdam in 1928. Yet it was not until the 1966 FIFA World Cup that they flourished again. Portugal finished third in England, thanks to the scoring feats of the Mozambique-born striker Eusébio. Four of the Black Panther's nine goals came in a dramatic quarter-final against North Korea at Goodison Park.

Portugal also qualified for the World Cups of 1986, 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014. At the tournament in Germany, the team bridged two hugely talented generations characterised by Luís Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo, both FIFA World Players of the Year. There have also been six UEFA European Championship appearances. As debutants, Portugal reached the semi-finals of EURO '84, going down 3-2 after extra time to hosts France. The 1996, 2000, 2008 and 2012 tournaments brought quarter-final, semi-final, quarter-final and semi-final finishes from the Selecção das Quinas, who also lost the final of UEFA EURO 2004 as the home team against Greece. Even so, that Portuguese EURO was considered a resounding success, with great games staged in modern stadiums and a friendly atmosphere in keeping with traditional Portuguese hospitality.

2016 was an eventful year for the FPF. Firstly, with the opening in March of the Cidade do Futebol, a top-level facility which includes the association headquarters and training installations for the Portuguese national teams. Then came sporting success - firstly with the European U17 title in May, followed two months later by the biggest prize of all, the UEFA EURO 2016 crown in France - Portugal's first-ever major title, conquered against the hosts in the final at the Stade de France as a close-knit team coached by Fernando Santos grew in stature and confidence through the tournament. Another 'first' was celebrated by the women's senior national team, which qualified for UEFA Women's EURO 2017 and their first appearance in the championship's final tournament.