Blog post

Club of the Eagle: the history and heritage of Sport Lisboa e Benfica

Benfica started as a group of boys who wanted to play football and is now a successful international club in many sports.

This is the story of Benfica, which started as a group of boys who wanted to play football and became an international club.

On 28 February 1904, a group of boys who used to play football in Belém, on the riverside of Lisbon, decided to create a sports club. Sport Lisboa, named after the group, chose the red colour, the eagle, and the motto 'E Pluribus Unum' for its symbols.

They met at the Franco pharmacy, showered in a backyard with a well, and made the public playgrounds of the area their ground. 

Despite these poor conditions, they quickly rose to become the only team made up of only Portuguese players to defeat the powerful English players of the Carcavellos Club.

Four years later, the lack of facilities became more acute and the solution appeared in another neighbourhood of the city: the merging with Grupo Sport Benfica, which had headquarters and a field, gave the 'red' team a new home, a new name – Sport Lisboa e Benfica – and a new incentive to become even greater.

In the 1910s, Benfica confirmed its position as the best club in the capital after winning three Lisbon Championships in a row twice. 

Fame spread throughout the country in the 1930s, with the conquest of the National Championship three times in row for the first time. It was the first of many.

Still the world had to be conquered - a feat Benfica pulled off in the 1960s. The club achieved stardom with two consecutive wins in the European Champions Clubs’ Cup and became a regular presence in this competition. 

The symbol of the eagle achieved international recognition and the name Benfica came to be pronounced in all the languages of the world.

It may have been football that gave the Club its international dimension, but Benfica’s sporting success is eclectic.

Over the course of the club’s history, there have been more than 40 sports practiced in the stadium, pavilion, track, road, and water, in collective or individual sports. What started with the first athletics races, with associate members competing, and cycling achievements around Portugal, grew with gymnastics and swimming. These were consolidated by crowded pavilions supporting the winning team in several sports.

With more than 100 years of history,  the club is inseparable from the history of Lisbon, Portugal, and the world. The history of each athlete, leader and supporter are the memories and expressions of the community. 

The rich heritage of the club - material and immaterial - is today recognised as essential in the protection and reinforcement of its identity. Preserving, appreciating and communicating this heritage is the mission of the Cultural Heritage Department of Sport Lisboa e Benfica.

Taking care of the past, we guarantee the future and, in the Benfica Museum - Cosme Damião, to different generations, we share the history and values which made Benfica the club that it is today.

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