Sporting Lisbon legends: Top 10 all-time greats for the Leões

Sporting Lisbon legends: Top 10 all-time greats for the Leões

Kevin Omuya
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:10 PM

Sporting CP is one of the oldest and most recognizable clubs in the history of Portuguese football. In the last 30 years, the country has produced two Sporting Lisbon legends, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Figo, and the national side. In addition, the club is known as one of the best clubs in Europe for developing young players.

best Sporting Lisbon legends
Liga Portugal Bwin match between Sporting CP and GD Chaves at Estadio Jose Alvalade on August 27, 2022 in Lisbon, Portugal. Photo: Carlos Rodrigues
Source: Getty Images

One of the top three teams in Portuguese football is Sporting Clube de Portugal. They won the 1963–1964 European Cup Winners' Cup in addition to multiple domestic championships. Additionally well-known is their football academy. In the Euro 2016 Final, two of the three substitutes and eight of Portugal's starting eleven were academy graduates.

Sporting Lisbon legends players

The following is a Sporting Lisbon legends list mainly focusing on the forwards and wingers. Most players in this list do not include Sporting Lisbon legends defenders since the measure is with the trophies and goals they have produced.

10. Fernando Peyroteo

Fernando Peyroteo was born in Angola, Portugal. Between 1937 and 1949, he spent his whole career with the club with 544 goals. He was the star of the Cinco Violino front line (Five Violins). He was the league's leading scorer six times. At 1.6 successful strikes each game, his goals-per-game ratio was possibly the finest in football history. Between 1938 and 1949, he appeared in 20 matches for Portugal, scoring 14 goals.

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9. Liedson

Sporting Lisbon legends fifa 22
Liedson of Portugal celebrates scoring during the 2010 FIFA World Cup match against North Korea at the Green Point Stadium on June 21, 2010, in Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Doug Pensinger
Source: Getty Images

Liedson joined the club in 2003 following unsuccessful stints with Corinthians and Flamengo. He had 173 goals for them between 2003 and 2011, becoming one of the club's all-time greats. In 2005, he assisted them in reaching the UEFA Cup Final. He won the Copa Libertadores with Corinthians in 2012. Despite being born in Brazil, he elected to play for Portugal. He made his debut for Portugal in 2009 and played in the World Cup in 2010. He had a total of 15 caps.

8. Hector Yazalde

Hector Yazalde began his professional career with Club Atlético Independiente. Then, he relocated to Europe and joined the club. He won the European Golden Shoe in 1973-1974 with 46 goals in a single season. He scored 30 goals and won the European Silver Show the following season. He received ten caps, including two goals in the 1974 World Cup Finals.

7. Manuel Fernandes

Sporting Lisbon legends defenders
Manuel Fernandes of Lokomotiv Moscow in action during the UEFA Champions League match against Porto at Estadio do Dragao on November 6, 2018, in Porto, Portugal. Photo: Gualter Fatia
Source: Getty Images

Manuel Fernandes began his career at CUF. In 1975, he transferred to Sporting CP from CUF. He is the club's second-highest goalscorer, with 386 goals in all official competitions. He was well known for having four goals in a 7-1 victory over rival Benfica in 1986. He then joined Vitoria FC. Despite being the best scorer in the Portuguese league, he was controversially left off the 1986 World Cup roster.

6. Rui Jordão

Rui Jordo, one of the Leões legends, has played for various clubs. He was the league's top scorer twice and was named Portuguese Player of the Year in 1980 while with Sporting CP. He had a total of 37 caps. However, he was arguably most known for scoring twice against France in the Euro 1984 semifinals. It was one of the tournament's best games.

5. Cristiano Ronaldo

Sporting Lisbon legends of all time
Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal is in action during the UEFA Nations League match against the Czech Republic at the Jose Alvalade stadium in Lisbon, Portugal, on June 9, 2022. Photo: Pedro Fiúza
Source: Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo is widely regarded as one of the greatest forwards of his generation and top among famous Sporting Lisbon legends. From 2009 to 2013, when he transferred from Manchester United to Real Madrid, he was the most expensive player in history. When writing, he had twice won the Ballon d'Or and the Champions League with both Manchester United and Real Madrid. In addition, he led Portugal to reach the European Championship final in 2004 and 2016, and he won it in 2016. Ronaldo is one of the favourite Sporting Lisbon legends in FIFA 22.

4. José Travassos

José Travassos was among the first Portuguese players to achieve international acclaim. While playing for a FIFA all-star team, he scored against England. As a result, the English tabloids dubbed him "Europe's Joe." He was also a member of Sporting CP's Cinco Violinos (Five Violins) attacking line in the late 1940s. Between 1947 and 1958, he appeared in 35 matches for Portugal.

2. Krasimir Balakov

biggest Sporting Lisbon legends
The Bulgarian midfielder Krasimir Balakov owns the ball during a European Championship soccer match against Romania. Bulgaria went on to win the game 1-0. Photo: Dimitri Iundt
Source: Getty Images

Krassimir Balakov was a member of the Golden Generation of the 1990s. Between 1988 and 2003, he made 92 appearances for Bulgaria. He was best known for his brilliant attacking connection with forwards Fredi Bobic and Giovane Élber at Stuttgart, where he won two UEFA Intertoto Cups (2000 and 2002) and a DFB-Pokal (1997). Before joining Stuttgart, he had a successful period at the club, where he played alongside Luis Figo, one of the best Sporting Lisbon legends of all time.

3. Manuel Vasques

Vasques began his career in 1946. He participated in 349 games across all competitions at the club. He had 225 goals as a member of the Cinco Violinos (Five Violins) with Albano, António Jesus Correia, Fernando Peyroteo, and José Travassos, and won 10 major trophies, including eight Primeira Liga crowns. Vasques is one of the Sporting Lisbon football legends who scored during the 1950-51 season.

1. Pedro Barbosa

Sporting Lisbon legends players
Gabriel Barbosa of Flamengo reacts during a match as part of Brasileirao Series 2019 at Mineirao Stadium on October 21, 2019, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Photo: Pedro Vilela
Source: Getty Images

Pedro Barbosa graduated from Porto's academy but never made it to the main squad. Instead, he established his reputation with Vitoria SC. He joined the club in 1995 and stayed for 9 seasons. In 2005, he assisted the club in reaching the UEFA Cup Final. As one of the biggest Sporting Lisbon legends, he earned 22 caps for his country between 1992 and 2002 and competed in the European Championship in 1996 and the World Cup in 2002.

Who was associated with the famous club Sporting Lisbon?

The club is Sunil Chhetri's next destination. The India captain will be the first from the country to play for the Portuguese club's reserve side, which competes in the second division - Liga de Honra. The likes of Luis Figo, Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani, have honed their craft at Sporting.

Is Sporting Lisbon a big club?

Sporting Lisbon legends
Sporting CP supporters during the Liga Portugal Bwin match between Sporting CP and GD Chaves at Estadio Jose Alvalade on August 27, 2022, in Lisbon, Portugal. Photo: Carlos Rodrigues
Source: Getty Images

In July 2020, the club announced that it had 106,625 active members following its last recount. It is the third most decorated Portuguese football team, with 54 trophies, including one international title, the 1963–64 European Cup Winners' Cup.

Why is Lisbon called Sporting?

Sporting Clube de Portugal is the original name for club fans in Portugal and Portugal-speaking countries worldwide. However, the International community prefers Sporting Lisbon for short.

Who owns Sporting Lisbon?

Dr Alvaro Sobrino owns the club. He is also the owner of the company Holdimo and owns a 30 per cent stake in the club.

What soccer team plays in Lisbon?

Lisbon has three teams which dominate Portuguese football. The clubs are FC Porto from the eponymous northern city, Benfica and Sporting Clube de Portugal from Lisbon.

Two Ballon d'Or winners are among the best Sporting Lisbon legends. The club also involved most players born in Portugal. Eight of the eleven players started for Portugal in the Euro 2016 Final against France.

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Kevin Omuya
Kevin Omuya is a Content Writer with 4 years of experience who joined Sports Brief in 2022. In 2019 he held a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism & Digital Media from KCA University.