6. Benfica to Brazil…

The title of this blog may be a mystery to some of you, but only if you have never heard of the most supported football club in the world. Today, I leave for Brazil, catching a 16:25 TAP flight to Salvador de Bahia, (after two years of presuming I would be in Rio I had a late change of heart, knowing that I would be there in 2014 for the Olympics anyway, and seeing that after the draw Salvador had much better matches, at least until the final). 1917584_full-prt

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Benfica

Sporting

Sporting

I popped over to Lisbon for two reasons: one, I had never been to Portugal, and two, they speak Portuguese here, (they kind of invented it), so I could learn the lingo for a few months before heading out for carnival. In my first week I had to make a decision: was I going to support the green and white stripes of Sporting Lisbon, or the red and white of Benfica. That decision, made by doing some research into the teams and asking a few new co-workers and random strangers on the streets and in shops, changed my year dramatically. I have attended almost every Benfica match in the glorious Estadio da Luz, (a 15-minute metro ride directly from my apartment), made friends (and enemies!) based purely on my choice of team, filled a room with scarves, jerseys and memorabilia, run a 10k fun run through the stadium, (collecting some souvenir grass on the way through), attended two cup finals, and even been to a few away matches.

Estadio da Luz, Lisboa

Estadio da Luz, Lisboa

The last of these will be featured in an upcoming blog, since it was as away as you could get this season – the Europa Cup Final in Torino, Italy. So, that is the story behind the blog: my year of sport is about to merge from its Benfica-based first half, to its Brasil-bound second half, and I hope you enjoy the ride. But before we set off, you may be wondering what on earth I meant when I called SLB, (Sport Lisboa e Benfica), the most supported team in the world at the start of this blog entry. Bigger than Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Manchester United? Surely not. Surely.

Scarves on sale at the stadium

Scarves on sale at the stadium

In 1961 and 1962 Benfica won back-to-back European cups against none other than Barcelona and Real Madrid. The 1962 final had featured  one of the greatest ever players to grace a pitch, Mozambique-born Eusébio, who went on to become a Benfica and Portuguese legend.

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1961 European Cup Final programme

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1962 European Cup Final programme          

‘The King’ passed away soon after I arrived in Lisbon, (it was nothing to do with me, I swear), and there were three days of national mourning for a man who was declared a national treasure by Portuguese dictator Salazar in order to keep him in the country when Juventus came knocking.

Posters across Lisbon bid farewell to 'The Black Panther', who died on January 5th 2014

Posters across Lisbon bid farewell to ‘The Black Panther’, who died on January 5th 2014

At the same time, in 1961 the colonial wars broke out, as Portuguese former African colonies fought for independence. At the height of these wars, around 200,000 Portuguese fled the country to avoid being drafted to fight. They spread around the world, where there are 5 million Portuguese ex-pats to this day, and they took with them the love of their country…and of their favourite football team. The Guinness Book of Records counts Benfica as having more paid members than any other club in the world, currently numbering over a quarter of a million. And I am proud to count myself number 263,951. 20140528_114033   If you’ve enjoyed this blog, and want to read more, please FOLLOW my blog in the link in the top left corner of the page: that way you will never miss a blog, and I will know someone out there is reading!

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57 thoughts on “6. Benfica to Brazil…

  1. SLB1904 says:

    awsome dude!! Thank you from the heart, the reasons you wrote, make Benfica the bigger team in the world, and still growing 😉 ty again for all, it’s people like you that keep spreading the name SLB!!! huge hug from Benfica supporter…

    PS.- Didn’t u went to Benfica supporters?? ”No name boys” ?? you have to go man, it’s awsome!!

    • Thanks for the comment!

      And of COURSE I spent some time with No Name Boys: that was always my favourite place to watch games, when I could get a ticket! Sometimes it was full and I had to sit somewhere else, but Sagres Piso 0 was the place I always wanted to be – and the place I always tried to take people when they came to games with me!

      Força SLB!

    • The Benfiquista Family has shown my so much love on this blog, it has been amazing!

      The flight was safe, I’m in Salvador now, hunting for tickets…and a place to stay!

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Congrats on the club choice – surely the best in the world!

    And thank you for this blog, I feel happy to see every day there’s a new “benfiquista” being born to support this club and take his name to anywhere in the world.

    Enjoy Brasil and comeback anytime!

    • MM,

      Thanks for the message of support! I also think I created dozens more Benfiquistas: one of my hobbies, after I finished my job as a Lisbon tour guide, was to take tourists to Luz to watch matches. I’m pretty sure they all went home with SLB in their souls!

  3. Welcome to Benfica! It is stories like yours that make this the greatest club on earth (Note: Club, not just football team. We are so much more than that!).

    Just a quick correction. Eusebio didn’t play in the 1961 European Cup Final, only in 1962.

    God bless!
    Carrega Benfica!

    • Filipe,

      Thanks so much for finding the blog, and for reading and writing back to me. I am still learning ‘our’ history, so thanks for the feedback: I have changed the blog to reflect the true history.

      And having been to the club museum, I appreciate that SBL is more than just football! Those trophies, they just go on forever! Handball, hockey, futsal, athletics…amazing!

      Feel free to follow the blog, and share it with friends and fellow SLB lovers! Y otra vez, obrigado!

    • This is only the start of the story!
      Come back, or follow me, to hear about my time at the World Cup, and my report of the CL final, and my attempts to get into the final in Torino!!

      Next year! We’ll win it next year! 🙂

    • Thanks! I just arrived in Brasil, and can’t wait to keep everyone up to date with World Cup news, as well as my thoughts about SLB’s season this year! Keep reading!

  4. Parabéns pelo blog, muito bom. Fico contente que tenhas feito a escolha certa e escolheste o nosso Benfica em vez do Sporting. Abraço e saudações benfiquistas. SLB, SLB, SLB, SLB, SLB, glorioso, SLB, glorioso SLB.

  5. Luis Borges says:

    Doron Klemer, you can t imagine how great is to me, a Portuguese guy living in amsterdam, to hear such nice words about my city, my country and specially about our BENFICA!!!

    Now…enjoy Brasil!!!

    luis borges

    • Hey Luis Borges,

      You not only support a great team, you have one of my favourite ever names: I am a Jorge Luis Borges fanatic, too!

      Thanks for finding me, following me, and reading me: Força SLB!

  6. João Rodrigues says:

    Hi Doron, i work in SL Benfica Merchandising. I need your email. Is possible?

    Best Regards,

    João Rodrigues

  7. Ricardo Fernandes says:

    Respect Doron! You have picked/chosen “the club of the people” in Portugal and in a bit of every corner of the planet earth. Its fantastic to know that our dimension can attract someone like you! All the Best! O BENFICA ÉS TU

  8. omeucomputador@gmail.com says:

    Only BENFICA supporters can feel this way!!!
    WELCOME TO THE BIGGEST, GREATEST AND MOST MAGICAL TEAM IN THE UNIVERSE.

  9. RED EAGLE says:

    My Friend
    You made the wright choice to pick SL Benfica has your favorite soccer team !!! To be a Benfica fan is different from anything else , I was born a Benfica supporter and my wife already knows that when I die the Benfica Jersey and scarf as to go with me . SLBENFICA4LIFE

  10. sergiofbsilva says:

    I am Benfica since I was born. My father took me to the old Benfica stadium since I was a child and actually I became a swimmer athelete when I was 10 years old (been a supporter since 6).

    4 years ago I decided to buy the season ticket and go support our team.My father used to take me to every game when I was young and now that I can afford it I won’t miss a game. This post is the answer for my unanswered question when I was going to the stadium every match and saw so many foreign people doing the same thing as me … And every I wondered, why are these people from all around the world going to Benfica games as I do since I am 6 years old? Now I know why. Now I can understand how big we are and the way you feel now is the same feeling that every Benfiquista has. I went to all the finals, watched all the passes and goals and I feel we are part of the biggest football family in the world.

    Thank you for making our family bigger! Good luck in Brazil, go and support Garay, Enzo, Ruben Amorim and Andre Almeida. I am sure you will have a Benfiquista beside you.

    • I woke up this morning and found a guy in a beautiful, now SLB jersey in my hostel breakfast room.

      He’s from Angola.

      That will be my next blog in a day or two.

      I will see Ruben and Andre play here in Salvador, and I will be in my SLB jersey for them.
      Garay and Enzo I will cheer on TV, and if I get lucky and get a ticket to see them in the final, (maybe!!)

      Muito, muito obrigado pela mensagem.

  11. Benfica lovers,

    In case you haven’t been back to the site since this blog was written, (back in the days before Brazilians crossed themselves at the name ‘Germany’, and when England and Portugal were kind of still considered world class teams)…

    The big news is that this blog is about to become a BOOK!

    With stories of my travels from France to Japan to Germany to South Africa following the World Cup, my adventures in Brasil this summer, and especially my year following BENFICA around Portugal and Europe, you can find out more about the project HERE:

    Come see the video, share with friends and family, and most importantly buy a copy (or two!) to be sure of receiving the best book of the year!

    🙂

  12. 48 hours left to order ‘Benfica to Brazil: the book’!

    I am writing the book for the next two months, and it should be coming through your letterboxes by March! The first chapter is finished, the stories are great, and many of you have already ordered for which i say: OBRITHANKS!

    🙂

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