Despite having some of the best players ever to have graced soccer, Portugal has rarely been among the world’s elite when it comes to major international tournaments. In fact, the only international title came in 2016, when they were champions of EuroCopa. In the World Cup you need to look further, in 1966 was your best participation, where they finished third. In this selection are highlighted the 10 best Portuguese players of all time.
Top 10 Best Portuguese players
10. Deco (2003-10)
75 matches, 5 goals
Deco was born in Brazil, but his football became known to the Portuguese national team. As he was not called up by the Brazilian national team, he chose to serve Portugal as the midfielder. Quickly, Deco established himself as one of the most important players of the selection following his debut in 2003. He gained Portuguese citizenship by virtue of spending 5 years in the country, with his most notable charm in his adopted home coming with Porto. There, he helped the team to 3 league titles, 3 cups, a UEFA Cup and Champions League, being voted as the man of the match in the final of the latter.
9. Nene – (1971-84)
66 matches, 22 goals
An idol of the most successful club in Portuguese football. Nene spent his entire 18-year career with Benfica and was a key player for the vast majority of this charm. The striker was clinician in front of the goal and helped to shoot The Eagles to a trophy-laden period of their history. He was able to score 263 goals for the club and won 11 Premier League titles and 8 cups, doubling no less than 4 times.
8. Fernando Chalana – (1976-88)
27 matches, 2 goals
Dubbed “Little Genius,” Chalana managed to show off his skills at the 1984 European Championships in France. Most of his club career was against Benfica, where he won 6 Premier League titles and 3 cups before adding 2 league titles and 2 cups in France with Bordeaux. Individually, he was named Portuguese Soccer Player of the Year in 1976 and 1984.
7. Paulo Futre – (1983-95)
41 matches, 6 goals
Undoubtedly his best football was played with Atletico Madrid, where he won the Spanish Cup 2 years in a row. He was also named Portuguese Soccer Player of the Year in consecutive years, winning the award in 1986 and 1987.
6. Rui Costa – (1993-2004)
94 matches, 26 goals
The attacking midfielder was renowned for playing for some of the great Italian teams of that era. His 94 international appearances include a World Cup and 3 Eurocopa. With Portugal reaching the quarterfinals of Euro 96, semi-finals of Euro 2000, and final of Euro 2004. Rui Costa was named in the All-Star teams of 1996 and 2000, while also played an important role in the route by the end of 2004 under the command of Brazilian coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.
5. Mario Coluna – (1955-68)
57 matches, 8 goals
The midfielder quickly established himself as a leader and consequently received the club-level armband and selection. During his 16 years with Benfica, Coluna played in 525 matches and accumulated 10 Premier League titles, 7 Cups, and 2 Champions League, breaking Real Madrid’s dominance in the last tournament. He participated in the excellent campaign of Portugal in the 1966 World Cup, when he was in third place.
4. Fernando Peyroteo – (1938-49)
20 matches, 14 goals
He may not be the best known in this team, but Fernando has established himself as the greatest scorer that football has ever seen. He scored 331 times in just 197 matches for Sporting, giving him a goals-to-match ratio of 1.68, the highest in soccer history. Throughout his career, there were 559 goals in just 354 games, an average of 1.62 per game. As a comparison, Cristiano Ronaldo has 450 goals in 439 games for Real Madrid, an average of 1.02 per game.
3. Luis Figo – (1991-2006)
127 matches, 32 goals
The leader of Portugal’s second-generation gold, Luis was among the best of such a talented generation of players. His 127-game international career makes him the most active national team in the history of his country, while his 32 goals put him fourth on the all-time list of top scorers. He received the prestigious Ballon d’Or in 2000 and was named FIFA World Player of the Year in 2001, while he was also elected Portuguese Football Player of the Year, a record 6 times, all consecutively between 1995 and 2000. He is also considered one of the best players to play for Barcelona of all time .
2. Eusebio – (1961-73)
64 matches, 41 goals
The Black Panther possessed incredible athleticism, technique and a flawless natural instinct in front of the goal, attributes that made him one of the greatest scorers of all time . He scored an incredible 749 times in 743 club-level matches while also making 41 in 64 games for Portugal, making him the country’s third-highest scorer. He remains Benfica’s top scorer with 638 goals in 614 games, helping the Eagles to win 11 Premier League titles, 5 Cups and a Champions League. He also reached 3 other Champions League finals, but did not get the title in 1963, 1965 and 1968. During his 15-year performance with Benfica, he finished as a leading scorer in the Premier League 7 times, which is more than any other player.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo – (2003-present)
151 matches, 84 goals
Having established himself as Portugal’s greatest goal scorer of all time, Ronaldo is now also the player with the most Portuguese shirt matches and also enters history as one of the best players the world has ever seen . One of the most expensive players in the world , Ronaldo broke into football with Manchester United before transferring for 80 million pounds to Real Madrid. Before Real, he won 3 Premier League titles, one English Cup, 2 English League Cup and 1 Champions League in Old Trafford, for Real Madrid, he added 4 Champions League, 3 FIFA World Cups, 2 Spanish Championships , 2 King’s Cup and 2 UEFA Super Cup.