By Joaquin Bueno
|To many, the Portugese internationals are the greatest underacheivers in world football today. Futbol World takes a look at the team with so much unfulfilled potential- Portugal's "Lost Generation" of football players.|
|The Portugese national team, on
paper, is surely one of Europe, and the world's, most formidable selections. The players
that are from the Lusitanian nation are truly world class players. As individual elements
they have found great success on the club level in Italy, Spain, Germany, Holland, and
Portugal, yet together as a team they are immensely undersuccessful for the players of
Since 1990, the footballing nation of Portugal has completely failed to qualify for the World Cup. Mexico '86 was the last time that the internationals shared the big stage with their peers from other nations. Why does this team find it so difficult to succeed? How can such a number of immensely talented players continually fail to acheive the most intrinsic of their goals- that is acheiving pride for their nation in the World's greatest competion?
Benfica's Joao Pinto
Figo with Barcelona
The Wealth of Stars
Here is Futbol World's examination of some of the biggest of the "Lost Boys":
GK Vitor Baia (left)- In Barcelona during the 1996-1997 season, many fans and analysts of football considered him to be the best goalkeeper in the world. His success was great, and he helped Barcelona win the European Cup Winners' Cup and also clinch a place in the Champions' League. His performance the next season diminished as Luis Van Gaal opted for his countryman Ruud Hesp in goal. Despite being 2nd choice at Barcelona, Vitor Baia has maintained himself as a key figure in the Portugese national scheme, and to many, his talents as a keeper are unquestionable.
D Dimas Teixeira- Dimas is a great player that has proved himself as a great defender in the defensively toughest of all leagues- the Italian Serie A. Not only that, but he has done it for one of the greatest teams of Italian history- the legendary Juventus.
D Fernando Couto (above)- Couto has had his ups and downs in his career, but there never has been a doubt that he is a very tough and skilled defender. He has done well in Barcelona, and like half the team, fell out with Luis Van Gaal. Now he has signed with Lazio to revive his career. He is noted for his height and great aerial game, and normally plays as a sweeper or stopper. Couto is a quality defender, and earned the nickname "Tarzan" while at Barcelona, due to his wild flowing hair.
D Carlos Secretario- Secretario found great succes in the Portugese league, which catapulted him to the national team as a key member. This also put him at Real Madrid for the 1996-1997, where he was a failiure. Though he failed at Madrid, he continued to find success at F.C. Porto, the club of his origin. He is a natural sweeper, and his offensive skills make him often play more like a libero.
D Helder- Helder was brought to Deportivo La Coru˝a as an integral part of a team with championsip potential. He is a tall and strong defender, whose place is in the center of the defense. He is strong in the air, and has been an important part of the Portugese line-up.
D Sergio Conceišao- Conceišao is a great lateral defender who is at home on the right. His presence at F.C. Porto in the 1990's has been essential to the team's dominance of the Portugese league. He has gotten the championships with Porto but until now has come home empty from European competitions. His great form in Porto got the attention of Italian prestigious club Lazio of Rome, where he will join his countryman Couto. Perhaps 1998 will be a year for his European success, as Lazio fights in the UEFA Cup as one of last competition's finalists.
M Luis Figo (left)- Luis Figo has possibly been the best Portugese player of the generation, consistently performing to an amazing level in his years at Barcelona. Barcelona has had to continually fight off offers for this great midfielder, who has captured the Barcelona fans with his top-class dribbling, tremendous speed and technical ability, and a great shot that has handed the team many a critical goal. His play has been as essential to Portugal as he has been to his club. His great skills allow him to move with equal ease on the left and on the right of the midfield. He is a pure attacker, and likes to play almost like a forward. Figo possesses a powerful shot on goal, and can shoot equally well with his left and right foot. He is a motor. Luis Figo is one the most notable absences of the WC.
M Rui Costa (left)- Rui has continually shown his worth in Fiorentina in the Serie A of Italy. His consistent superior performance has earned him a permanent home in the hearts of the fans of Florence. Rui Costa is one of the reasons Batistuta has been so prolific in the Calcio. His superb passing, and notable technical abilities have helped Fiorentina to prosper.
M Paulo Sousa- Sousa is an important part of a Portugese midfield that for many is one of dreams. The Internazionale player has never failed to show his great class that has earned him favor with the fans and coaches.
F Sa Pinto (left)- Sa Pinto demonstrated one of the reasons that Portugal's national team has failed in unity. He was banned from professional football for 1 year last season after he assaulted national coach Artur Jorge. This incident hindered his recent signing by Real Sociedad of Spain. This year in Spain he hopes to show the class and talent that first got the attention of the Basque club.
F Roberto Domingos- Domingos came to Tenerife with a prestigious name, and was one of the biggest signings in the club's history.
F Joao Pinto- Joao Pinto is a perennial star at his club Benfica, and is a critical part of the national team. His arrogance and snobbiness have cost him a move to a bigger club in recent years, including a notable move to Atletico Madrid that was blocked by the player's attitude. He has often clashed with national teammates, notably with Oporto players in a clash that left him with a dislocated jaw in 1996, and a broken nose in 1997. His attitude has sadly overshadowed his great talent many a time.
F Edgar Patricio de Carvalho- Edgar, like Dani, is the future of Portugese football. The European press has named this 21-year old sensation the "Portugese Raul". At Benfica 2 years ago he became a regular starter, and has been the captain of the U-21 national team. Real Madrid snapped him up in the winter of 97, and he will play with the legendary club in 1998. This may be the beginning of the renewal of the lost generation. Edgar is young blood, hope for the future, and it may be his generation that throws away the burden of being called the "Lost Generation".
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