Benfica legends: Who are the top 10 all-time greats for the Eagles?

Benfica legends: Who are the top 10 all-time greats for the Eagles?

Lewis Injai
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:10 PM

As the 2022 FIFA World Cup is fast approaching, it is that time we look at players who impacted the game to attain legendary status. One such lot are players from Benfica. Unknown to many today, there was a time when Benfica was at the pinnacle of European football, and its players were at the centre of it all. The top 10 Benfica legends have positively impacted the club throughout its existence, and their legacies outlived them.

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Benfica legends: Who are the top 10 all-time greats for the Eagles?
Over the Benfica has seen its fair share of great players, but who amongst them has attained legendary status? Photo: Keystone and @slbenfica (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Benfica is synonymous with not winning any major European trophies in the last six decades. Still, they remain Portagual's most decorated football club and one of Europe's best talent development centres for players.

These players have made quite a name for themselves both in the team and outside because it will become evident throughout the list; Benfica is responsible for some of the household names we have all come to know and love.

Benfica's legends list

It was a close call for this club which has had a lot of great players throughout its history, but based on a couple of credible online publications and several fan polls, a compilation list of ten of the biggest and best Benfica legends is outlined right here.

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10. Victor Lindelöf

  • Name: Victor Jörgen Nilsson Lindelöf
  • Date of birth: 17 July 1994
  • Age: 28 years old (as of September 2022)
  • Nationality: Swedish
  • Position(s) played: Midfield and defence
  • Tenure at the club: 2011-2017
  • Current Club: Manchester United
Benfica Legends-Victor Lindelöf
Victor Lindelöf during his Benfica days. The club is credited for making him who he is now. Photo: @RedReveal
Source: Twitter

Starting the list is Victor Lindelöf, otherwise known as the Iceman in Lisbon. This Swedish international joined the club at the tender age of 17 in 2011 to its youth system. Nevertheless, he rose through its ranks, and by the time he was leaving in 2017, he had won three Portuguese league titles; two Taca De Portugal titles and one Taca De Liga title. He is usually considered one of the best and most promising defenders the club has seen.

9. David Luiz

  • Name: David Luiz Moreira Marinho
  • Date of birth: 22 April 1987
  • Age: 35 years old (as of September 2022)
  • Nationality: Brazilian
  • Position (s) played: Defensive midfield
  • Tenure at the club: 2007-2011
  • Current club: Flamengo

Another one of Benfica's football legends is David Luiz. A young 19-year-old David Luiz made his European debut with The Eagles. After a somewhat tumultuous start at the club, he became the club's franchise player after just two seasons, making 130 appearences for the club in all competitions and helping them win the Portuguese Premera Liga after a five-year drought.

The fact that he was considered to be resigned even after departing the club 10 years prior, last year, shows his legacy supersedes him at the club, and he is always considered one of Benfica's legend defenders.

8. Jose Augusto

  • Name: José Augusto Pinto de Almeida
  • Date of birth: 13 April 1937
  • Age: 85 years old (as of September 2022)
  • Nationality: Portuguese
  • Position (s) played: Winger
  • Tenure at the club: 1959-1969 as a player and 1970-1971 as a coach
Benfica Legends- Jose Augusto
Jose Augusto left a legacy at The Eagles, making him the second highest scorer in the club's history. Photo: @slbenfica (modified by author)
Source: Instagram

This winger was part of The Eagles' golden generation, where he made 369 appearences scoring 174 goals for the club, including 24 at the Champions League, making him the club's second highest scorer at that level. During his tenure, the club won 13 major titles, including eight Portuguese League titles and two European. He is one of the biggest Benfica Legends of all time and is often called "Portuguese Garrincha."

7. Angel Di Maria

  • Name: Ángel Fabián Di María
  • Date of birth: 14 February 1988
  • Age: 34 years old as of September 2022
  • Nationality: Argentine
  • Position (s) played: winger
  • Tenure at the club: 2007-2010
  • Current club: Juventus
Benfica Legends- Angel Di Maria
Angel Di Maria was a great player right the moment he joined Benfica. Photo: @angeldimariajm (modified by the author)
Source: Instagram

Di Maria is one player whose stint at the club is still talked about to this day, making him one of the most famous Benfica legends. The Argentine joined The Eagles at the age of 19 as a replacement for the then departing captain. He made 70 appearances for the club. His performances earned him recognition from major European clubs and co-sign from fellow legends like Diego Maradona.

6. Nemanja Matić

  • Name: Nemanja Matić
  • Date of birth: 1 August 1988
  • Age: 34 years of age (as of September 2022)
  • Nationality: Serbian
  • Position (s) played: Defensive midfielder
  • Tenure at the club: 2011-2014

Matic was signed to Benfica from Chelsea as part of a deal of Chelsea signing another legend on this list, David Luiz. His tenure at the club was so legendary that they offered to resign him even after seven years of leaving the club when an opening came. But, on the other hand, Matic has also come out several times, citing that Benfica still holds a special place in his heart.

5. Luisão

  • Name: Ânderson Luís da Silva
  • Date of birth: 13 February 1981
  • Age: 41 years of age (as of September 2022)
  • Nationality: Brazilian
  • Position (s) played: Centre back
  • Tenure at the club: 2003-2018
Benfica Legends- Luisão
Luisão holds the record for making the most international appearances for The Eagles. Photo: Carlos Rodrigues, Mike Stobe (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

Luisão is considered one of the most impactful of The Eagles' legends. This Brazilian international joined Benfica in 2003 when he was 22 and stayed with the club for 15 years, making 538 appearances in all its competitive sports. At 127 appearances, he currently holds the record for international games appearances, is the player with the most titles won for the club, and is the longest-serving captain the club has ever had.

4. Mario Coluna

  • Name: Mário Esteves Coluna
  • Date of birth: 6 August 1935
  • Date of death: 25 February 2014
  • Age: 78 (as of the time of death)
  • Nationality: Mozambique
  • Position (s) played: midfielder
  • Tenure at the club: 1954-1970
Benfica legends- Mario Coluna
Mario Coluna helped Benfica clinch 12 titles. Photo: S&G
Source: Getty Images

In his 17 seasons with The Eagles, this Portuguese with African roots was known as Sacred Monster and is often regarded as one of the best midfielders of his generation and the best midfielder amongst Benfica's legends of all time. In his tenure at the club, he was instrumental in winning twelve titles, including 10 Portuguese league titles and 2 European titles. He is also widely respected for acting as a father figure for Eusebio, his fellow countryman and another Benfica legend on this list.

3. Rui Costa

  • Name: Rui Manuel César Costa
  • Date of birth: 29 March 1979
  • Age: 50 (as of September 2022)
  • Nationality: Portuguese
  • Position (s) played: Attacking midfielder
  • Tenure at the club: 1990-1994 and 2006-2008 (as a player), 2021-date (president)
Benfica legends- Rui Costa
Rui Costa was legendary for his attacking midfield techniques. Photo: Carlos Rodrigues, TF-Images (modified author)
Source: Getty Images

Currently serving as Benfica's president, Rui's journey with the club began at the tender age of five. His great playmaking skills, which he nurtured at the club, earned him a spot in his generation's all-time greats. His spell with the club as a player was on two occasions, the first of which saw him help the club win two titles.

2. Nuno Gomes

  • Name: Nuno Miguel Soares Pereira Ribeiro
  • Date of birth: 5 July 1976
  • Age: 46 years old (as of September 2022)
  • Nationality: Portuguese
  • Position (s) played: Striker
  • Tenure at the club: 1997-2000 and 2002-2011
Benfica Legends - Nuno Gomes
Nuno Gomes had two successful stints and The Eagles. Photo: Mohammad Karamali, Scott Heavey (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

Another one of the famous Benfica legends who had two stints with The Eagles was Nuno Gomes. He first joined the club at 18 after establishing a reputation with his youth club Boavista. During his time with the club, he made 401 appearences, scored 166 goals, helped them clinch two titles and was the fourth-highest goal scorer in Portuguese national team history.

In 2011, at the end of his second stint, The Eagles offered him a coaching role, evidence of how impactful he was, but he declined, believing he could still play.

1. Eusebio

  • Name: Eusébio da Silva Ferreira
  • Date of birth: 25 January 2022
  • Date of death: 5 January 2014
  • Age: 71 years (as of the time of death)
  • Nationality: Portuguese
  • Position (s) played: Striker
  • Tenure at the club: 1961-1975

When it comes to the best Benfica legends, it does not get any better than Eusebio, the man known as the Black Panther, for he is considered The Eagles' most outstanding player. He was famed for his speed, technique and fearsome shoots that saw him score 727 goals in 715 matches while wearing the Eagles jersey, becoming Portugal's top scorer seven times and helping them clinch 17 titles.

Benfica Legends- Eusebio
Eusebio is widely considered the greatest Benfica player ever. Photo: Keystone, Bob Thomas Sports, Michael Regan (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

He received several personal accolades and awards during his stint with the club, the most notable being the 1965 Ballon d'Or and 1968 Golden Boots.

Benfica has seen great players who have positively impacted the game, so it would not do the situation any justice if we only talk about ten legendary players. These Benfica legends listed below are also considered legends in their rights by many.

Axel Witsel

Michel Preud’Homme

Manuel Bento

Domiciano Cavem

Artur Correia

Humberto Coelho

Ricardo Gomes

Carlos Mozer


Alvaro Magalhaes

Stefan Schwarz

Jonas Thern

Paulo Sousa

Simao Sabrosa

Antonio Simoes

Fernando Chalana

Jaime Graca

Luka Jovic

Bernardo silva

Joao Felix

Nelson Semedo

Alex Grimaldo

It is pretty evident from the above compilation that some Benfica legends are footballers we have come to love and adore for centuries. From all those mentioned above, who is your favourite player and why? Let us know in the comment section.

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