My Team & I: Benfica

By Carrie Soukup

Twitter: myrla_cat

Websites: &

Why Sport Lisboa e Benfica?

Ah, the story. The details kind of change from time to time, so if you have heard a version before… deal with it. (Actually, I haven’t written it down that I’m aware of! just told it.)

I was living near Washington, DC, and I was sitting in the mall, and someone sat down near me. I looked over, and it was none other than Freddy Adu. I’m usually terribly shy, but I remember saying something about “Wow… it’s you, I think you’re awesome” or something as equally as eloquent (read: awkward). He smiled, was kind of sheepish, but we actually started talking a bit. At that time, he had literally just signed with Benfica, so he was telling me all about them. Well, anyone that signs a guy like him can’t be all that bad, right? To this day, I still rank Freddy Adu up there not only as a normal human being like all of us, but completely awesome for answering questions and taking a bit of time out of his (I now realize) totally busy schedule just to talk with a random fan who he sat near in the mall. (I’m still hoping one day to meet him again.)

I already knew about Benfica’s existence as I had done a report on Eusébio in school. I started to follow them as best as I could, but I had definitely found a team I could get behind. I wasn’t nearly as involved as I am now. Thus passed a couple years, and I joined Twitter. Then the World Cup happened. I have always rooted for Brasil and Portugal as well. (I also have evolved into watching Argentina, due to so many of my current favorite players being from there.) Someone who caught my eye playing for Portugal, was a guy named Fábio Coentrão.. who was from Benfica. Well, well. Someone from Twitter told me one day “you know you can watch games online, right?” It was like a light opened up and the heavens parted and thus an “obsession” was born. I started watching… and live tweeting… and meeting all sorts of people via Twitter. There were LOTS OF others like me who didn’t live in Portugal yet were fans deep down. I wasn’t alone in my love, and I felt free enough to be able to start talking about it and finding something that would tie me to many other people in the world.

Because of this, I also picked up my Spanish learning again and am teaching myself Portuguese – just to be able to watch the games better. And, when I visit, I won’t be completely lost.

(For the record, my first ever European team I ever followed was Villarreal, and I still do, along with Real Madrid. I’ve started following Braga more for reasons that will become obvious shortly, and Belenenses whenever I can.)

Favourite Player?


Currently retired players: obviously Eusébio tops my list. An absolute legend, both on and off the field. If I would ever meet him, I’d probably forget all my Portuguese.. and English.. and any other language in my head.

When I was growing up though, and actually playing a bit of football here and there, Alexi Lalas was my “idol”. I hate using that word, but he was someone I looked up to, as I played defence myself (left footed left back). I wasn’t amazing, but I absolutely loved playing – and still do – but I have to admit I definitely would watch footage of Alexi to figure out how he could do certain moves with the ball. I’ve still got those vcr tapes.. somewhere… But he never played for Benifca.

I would be remiss if I did not mention Rui Costa. Absolutely an unbelievable player with an indomitable spirit.

Currently playing: Nuno Gomes. Nuno’s fire, determination, spirit, work ethic, and nearly everything else about him is inspirational. He’s my #2 favorite ever behind Eusébio. I guess you can accuse me of being a Nuno ‘fangirl’, but I respect him so, so much.

Other favorite players currently playing: Fábio Coentrão and Nico Gaitán top the list, which is long enough to be its own separate column.

Favourite Game?

I don’t know that I have a favorite game. Not a cop-out, just I really don’t feel I’ve seen enough to define having one. I can guarantee that once I finally make it to Portugal, my first game at the Luz will be my favorite.


Favourite Kit?

I absolutely love almost all of Benfica’s kits. The one I can’t wait to get from Portugal right now is last year’s yellow kit. I, of course, have Nuno on the back of it. But the 2005-2006 is one that I own personally, and I really like it.

Worst thing about being a Benfica fan?

Most of my personal favorite players will not end up staying with Benfica. We raise them, we train them, we make them kickass, and then they depart. And it drives me nuts. Granted, there are some lifers here and there but more often than not in Portuguese footy, they’re going to go somewhere else. And no, I refuse to get “used” to it.

Also, Benfica and clean sheet is very very rare to see in the same sentence. Granted, that will change now with Artur and Eduardo, but I swear Benfica hates clean sheets.

Funniest Moment?

In May I was flying to Austin and had a layover in Denver. As I’m walking along the concourse, I see someone in front of me wearing the yellow Benfica kit. I ran (not easy to do in sandals carrying luggage) up to him – it must have looked utterly comical and hilarious in retrospect and said “I love your kit, I love that team.” “Only the best team in the world! I just got back from Lisbon.” Oh, so jealous. But that was one of the neatest things – I walked with him to his gate, chattering about footy back and forth. I don’t even know his name, or where he was from. But it’s moments like that that are really unique.

Favourite Moment?

Too many to list, really, but there’s something about every time they show the pre-game festivities and one of the mascots flies through the stadium. It tugs at the heart, and makes me realize how deep the dedication is to this team, both in Portugal and abroad. I cannot wait to be there myself one day and see it in person! Força Benfica!


One Response to “My Team & I: Benfica”

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