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Letters to Santa

O texto que se segue e' da autoria de Sergio Rodrigues

With a golden decade coming to a close, I wanted to look back on the decades that were for me as a Benfiquista. I’ve been around for about 4 decades, experienced every high and low possible supporting this club. I was 8 years old at the end of 1989, somewhat a believer in Santa but my Benfiquismo was starting to shift into second gear. What if my 8 year old self wrote a letter to Santa at end of each decade - 1989, 1999, 2009, and 2019 - about Benfica? What would it sound like? What would I be wishing for the next decade to come? Undoubtedly, each one would probably be very different so here’s four distinct letters from decades that would shape this club for better and for worse.

*** The 80s: The Renaissance before the Storm***

December 1989

Dear Santa,

I am an 8 year old boy from Canada and crazy about Benfica. This past decade has been

awesome! 5 out of 10 national titles and 14 domestic titles out of 30 which is a fan’s dream come true! In Europe, we featured in a Cup Winners Cup semi final, a UEFA Cup final appearance against Anderlecht (which we narrowly lost over two legs), and a European Cup final against PSV in 1988, only to lose on 6-5 penalties. We truly are one of the biggest and best clubs in Europe! And we’ve got a stadium unlike others, the biggest in Europe with room for over 110,000 Benfiquistas after we expanded it in 1985! Red Star Belgrade, Liverpool, Anderlecht, Steaua Bucuresti, Sampdoria, and Roma all came to know first hand what the Inferno da Luz was all about. To watch great players like Nene, Sheu, Chalana, Diamantino and the greatest keeper of them all Bento, what more could a little boy ask? We were even a magnet for top foreign talent like Mozer, Ricardo Gomes, Aldair, Valdo, and Mats Magnusson! In the 90s, I want Benfica to win it all, conquer Europe with the best players around!

***The 90s: Vietnam***

December 1999

Dear Santa,

I am an 8 year old boy from Canada, crazy about Benfica but saddened by what I see. My dad told me about the years O Glorioso conquered Europe, a club feared by the rest of Europe right up to

the 80s. The decade started off great. We went all the way to the European Cup final, only losing to a legendary AC Milan in the final by the smallest of margins. In the league, the 90s started off ok, with 2 titles by 1994, with that famous 6-3 win at the Alvalade. We also had some great players too with Rui Costa, Michel Preud’Homme and o Menino de Ouro Joao Vieira Pinto! But something wasn’t right and it started with o 'Verão Quente' in 1993 and exploded soon after. This team is now a shell of what it was. Porto has won the last 5 championship and we’re a laughing stock of Europe. Just last month, we suffered a humiliating 7-0 lost to Celta de Vigo! 7-0!! The biggest clubs of Europe use to fear us, now we’re losing to the likes of Vigo, Bastia, and HJK Helsinki! Why Santa?? And where Rui Costa? Joao Vale e Azevedo promised him in the last election yet nothing. This club is going broke Santa, we can’t even pay our bills! In the new millennium, I want to win again! I want a new president! I want to play best of Europe, to recruit the top players, to feel the Inferno of the Luz again!

***The 2000s: Light at the End of the Tunnel***

December 2009

Dear Santa,

I am an 8 year old boy from Canada and obsessed with Benfica! Let me cut to the chase. One title this decade isn’t enough. I WANT MORE. I feel like things are turning around but I’m just not seeing the results. Ok we got rid of that criminal Joao Vale e Azevedo. We have a new

immaculate stadium that hosted the Euro 2004 final. Rui Costa finally came back to the club and he brought along some friends – Pablo Aimar, Cardozo, Simão Sabrosa, Di Maria, David Luiz and Fabrizio Miccoli just to name a few! As noite Europeias that I heard so much about are slowing coming back. Epic matches against Inter Milan (San Siro classic), Manchester United (Beto!!!), Liverpool (Miccoli!!!!), Barcelona (Ronaldinho in Ricardo Rocha’s pocket), PSG (Simao show) and this decade tells me this club is ready to wake up from its hibernation. BUT I WANT RESULTS! We need to win titles! I felt like Trappatoni finally woke up a sleeping giant and made us believe in ourselves but we’ve slipped back again to our old habits. Porto’s won the last 4 titles and we don’t want to see another Porto penta. This new coach Jorge Jesus feels like the right man for the job. Please let him deliver a title this year and many more titles over the next 10 years!

***The 2010s: On the Wings of an Eagle***

December 2019

Dear Santa,

I am an 8 year old boy from Canada and the biggest Benfica fan ever! This decade has been awesome! I don’t know what other Benfiquistas are talking about. Haven’t we always been this successful, this dominant? We’re the biggest club in Portugal, we sell players to the biggest clubs in Europe, producing record profits. Joao Felix, Ederson, Semedo, Lindelof, Renato

Sanches, Raul Jimenez, Witsel, Goncalo Guedes, Rodrigo, Fabio Coentrao and Di Maria were all sold this decade for over €30 million or more! That’s €400 million in revenue from 11 players! We won 18 trophies this decade with the tetra the crown jewel of them all! We even featured in 2 European Finals again for the first time since the 1980s. Things are fantastic! Sure we’ve had some stumbles along the way, our Champions League performances have been less than spectacular for example, and we blew our chances for an historic Penta by underestimating our rivals and not recruiting better players, but things could be worse – like in the 90s! Next decade, I want us to continue our dominant run in Portugal, recruit some experience players, and finally challenge for Champions League supremacy!


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