History of F.C. Porto
Early years (1893–1921)
The club was founded on 28 September 1893 as Foot-Ball Club do Porto by António Nicolau de Almeida, a local port wine merchant and avid sportsman, who became fascinated with football during his trips to England. Porto played its first matches with other Portuguese clubs, including one against Lisbon’s Foot-Ball Club Lisbonense on 2 March 1894. This match had the patronage of King Carlos I and Queen Amélie of Orléans, who traveled to Porto to witness the event and present a trophy to the winners.
Almeida’s enthusiasm and involvement with the club waned due to family pressure, and by the turn of the century, Porto had entered a period of inactivity. In 1906, José Monteiro da Costa returned to Porto after finishing his studies in England. Like Almeida, thirteen years before, he was also captivated by the English game, and together with some associates, decided to reintroduce the practice of football in the city, outside of the British circles. On 2 August 1906, Porto was revived and Monteiro da Costa appointed its president. Although football was the driving force, the club also promoted other sports, including gymnastics, weightlifting and wrestling, athletics and swimming. Shortly after, Porto rented its first ground and recruited a French coach named Adolphe Cassaigne, who would stay in the club until 1925.
On 15 December 1907, Porto played its first match against a foreign team, hosting Spain’s Real Fortuna. In the following month, Porto returned the visit and played its first match abroad. Four years later, the club won the inaugural staging of the Taça José Monteiro da Costa, securing its first-ever official title. In 1912, Porto joined efforts with Leixões to establish the Porto Football Association, which began organising the regional championship in the following year. Porto finished the first season as runners-up, behind local rivals Boavista, but in the following season the club won its first championship. By the end of the 1920–21 season, Porto had been regional champions six times in seven years, and outright winners of the Taça José Monteiro da Costa, after claiming a third consecutive victory in 1916.
First national titles and drought years (1921–1977)
The 1921–22 season was marked by the creation of the first nationwide football competition – the Campeonato de Portugal. Organised by the national federation, this knockout tournament gathered the winners of the different regional championships to determine the Portuguese champion. After clinching its fourth consecutive regional title, Porto defeated Sporting CP in the inaugural edition and became the first national champions. While a dominant regional force, the club faced stronger opposition in the national championship, winning it only three more times in a span of sixteen years (1925, 1932 and 1937).In 1933–34, Porto was denied participation in the Campeonato de Portugal by its football association for refusing to release players for a match between the Porto and Lisbon regional teams.
In the following season, a second nationwide competition named “Campeonato da Primeira Liga” (English: Premier League Championship), or simply Primeira Liga, was provisionally established by the national federation to increase the number of matches per season and improve the competitiveness of Portuguese football. As the regional champion, Porto qualified for the first edition of the new round-robin competition, winning it with 10 victories in 14 matches. Due to the success of its format, the Primeira Liga was made an official championship competition for the 1938–39 season – its name changed to “Campeonato Nacional da Primeira Divisão” (English: First Division National Championship) or simply Primeira Divisão – and replaced the Campeonato de Portugal, which in turn was converted into the Taça de Portugal, the main domestic cup competition. Porto won the inaugural edition of the new league championship and successfully defended the title in the next season, despite almost failing to take part. The club failed to secure a third consecutive title, and after nearly missing again a place in the Primeira Divisão in 1941–42, it would only return to a top-three finish in the 1946–47 season. In 1948, Porto defeated English champions Arsenal 3–2 in a friendly match. To commemorate this victory, the associates offered the club a massive trophy made of 250 kg (550 lb) of silver and wood – the Arsenal Cup.
Having endured a 16-year title drought period, Porto returned to winning ways by taking the 1955–56 Primeira Divisão on head-to-head advantage over runners-up Benfica. Later that season, Porto beat Torreense to win its first Taça de Portugal and achieve its first double. As the Portuguese league winner, Porto made its debut in European competitions by qualifying for the 1956–57 European Cup. The club’s first participation was short-lived, ending in the preliminary round with two defeats against Spanish champions Athletic Bilbao. A year later, Porto lifted its second Taça de Portugal by beating Benfica 1–0 in the final. The two clubs met again in the following season’s final, but this time Benfica took the trophy and denied a second double for Porto, who had won the 1958–59 Primeira Divisão three months before.
Shortly after, the club entered another lacklustre period of its history, the highest point of which was a victory in the 1968 Taça de Portugal final. During this time, Porto achieved its worst-ever league classification, a ninth place in 1969–70, while its best league record consisted of six runner-up finishes (four consecutive between 1961–62 and 1964–65). In European competitions, the club participated for the first time in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (and its successor, the UEFA Cup) and in the Cup Winners’ Cup, without getting past the third round. One of the club’s most tragic moments occurred on 16 December 1973, when during a league match against Vitória de Setúbal, 26-year-old captain Pavão fell unconscious on the pitch and died later at the hospital. The following month, Porto presented Peruvian international Teófilo Cubillas, who became one of the club’s most successful players, scoring 65 goals in 108 games.
International affirmation (1977–1988)
The return of José Maria Pedroto – a former Porto player and head coach in the late 1960s – in the 1976–77 season started a new chapter in the club’s history. Responsible for the previous cup triumph in 1968, Pedroto guided Porto to its fourth title in the competition. In the following season, he put an end to Porto’s league title drought, winning the championship 19 years after having played in the team that took the last title. Internationally, Porto reached the quarter-finals of the 1977–78 Cup Winners’ Cup, beating Manchester United along the way, but suffered its heaviest defeat (6–1) against AEK Athens in the subsequent season’s European Cup. A poor run of performances in the latter part of the season – resulting in the loss of the league and cup titles – sparked a conflict between the technical staff and president Américo de Sá, which ended with the resignation of Pedroto and his replacement by Hermann Stessl. In December 1981, Porto overcame Benfica to win the inaugural staging of the Portuguese Super Cup, the Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira.
Pedroto returned in April 1982 by the hand of the club’s newly elected president Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa, who had resigned as director of football, two years before, in solidarity with the coach. The previous month, Porto fell again in the Cup Winners’ Cup quarter-finals against one of the eventual finalists, but needed only two years to finally reach the competition’s final. On 16 May 1984, Porto played its first major European final in Basel’s St. Jakob Stadium, losing 2–1 to Michel Platini’s Juventus. Already without Pedroto, who stepped down due to illness, Porto won that season’s Taça and Supertaça but lost the championship to Benfica. Under the steering of Pedroto’s apprentice, Artur Jorge, the following season brought the Primeira Divisão title back to the club and crowned homegrown striker Fernando Gomes as Europe’s top goalscorer for the second time, after first taking the award in 1983.
Porto retained the league title in 1986, securing an entry to the 1986–87 European Cup. In the first game, the club recorded its biggest win in European competitions: 9–0 against Maltese side Rabat Ajax. Vítkovice of Czechoslovakia, Brøndby of Denmark, and Dynamo Kyiv of the Soviet Union were successively eliminated as Porto advanced to its first European Cup final, against Bayern Munich. Trailing the Germans 1–0 until the 79th minute, Porto scored twice in two minutes – the first goal through a famous backheel from former Algerian international Rabah Madjer, who assisted Juary for the second – to secure a surprising win and the European Cup title.
The following season, under new coach Tomislav Ivic, the club completed a treble of international trophies by beating Ajax for the 1987 European Super Cup and Uruguay’s Peñarol for the 1987 Intercontinental Cup. The 1987–88 season was one of the most successful for the club, who also won the Taça de Portugal and an expanded 20-team Primeira Divisão with a record number of goals scored (88) and distance in points to the runners-up (15).
Tri, Tetra, Penta (1988–2001)
In contrast to the previous season, Porto failed to win a trophy in 1988–89, with many of its players struck down with injuries, such as Madjer and Gomes. Fifteen years after his first-team debut, Gomes made his last season for Porto, where he became the all-time top goalscorer with 352 goals in 455 matches. The club brought back Artur Jorge, who recovered the Primeira Divisão title in the following season and added the Taça and Supertaça trophies in 1991. His successor, Brazilian Carlos Alberto Silva, won back-to-back league titles in two seasons and qualified Porto for the first UEFA Champions League.
Midway through the 1993–94 season, Porto hired former England manager Bobby Robson, who had been sacked by Sporting CP. The club closed the gap to league winners Benfica, reached the 1993–94 UEFA Champions League semi-finals and ended the season with a victory over Sporting CP in the Taça de Portugal final. In Robson’s first full season, Porto claimed the 1994–95 Primeira Divisão title with a win at Sporting CP’s ground and played Benfica four times to secure both the 1993 and 1994 stagings of the Supertaça. The beginning of the season had been clouded by the death of 26-year-old midfielder Rui Filipe, who had scored the club’s first league goal. Robson’s increasing health problems barred him from leading Porto in the first months of the 1995–96 season, but he returned in time to revalidate the league title. Striker Domingos Paciência became the club’s top goalscorer for the second consecutive time and won that season’s Bola de Prata, the last win by a Portuguese player.
To fill the void left by the departure of Robson for Barcelona, Porto hired former club captain and Portugal national team manager António Oliveira. Under his command, Porto made history by winning a third consecutive league title (the Tri) for the first time, leaving the runners-up at distance of 13 points. The club’s eighth Supertaça win over Benfica was achieved with a solid performance at the Estádio da Luz that resulted in a 5–0 scoreline. The arrival of Brazilian players Artur and Mário Jardel proved highly productive in the 1996–97 UEFA Champions League, as their goals helped Porto beat Milan in Italy and win its group without defeats. In addition, Jardel would win the first of four consecutive Bola de Prata awards while at Porto. In Oliveira’s second and last season at the club, Porto won the Primeira Divisão for the fourth straight season (the Tetra), matching Sporting CP’s achievement in the early 1950s, and secured its third double after beating Braga in the 1998 Taça de Portugal final.
For the 1998–99 season, Porto tasked Portuguese coach Fernando Santos with winning the club’s fifth successive Primeira Divisão title (the Penta) – a Portuguese football record. He accomplished this feat, becoming thereafter known as the “Penta engineer” (a pun to his academic degree), and saw Jardel’s 36 goals win him the European Golden Shoe. Porto lost the chance to win its sixth straight league title, after finishing four points behind 1999–2000 Primeira Liga champions Sporting, but overcame them to lift its tenth Taça de Portugal trophy. Despite winning the Portuguese cup for the second time in two years, continued failure to retake the league title led to the resignation of Santos at the end of the 2000–01 season.
Mourinho’s golden years (2001–2004)
The appointment of former club player and assistant coach Octávio Machado to head Porto back to the league title appeared to pay off as the team began the season with a Supertaça win against the 2000–01 Primeira Liga winners, Boavista. However, this would be the only major achievement in a lacklustre season that would culminate with a third place in the league classification – the lowest in 20 years. The elimination from the 2001–02 Taça de Portugal, four days after losing away for the Primeira Liga, precipitated the sacking of Machado after 36 matches in charge.
Two days later, Porto signed União de Leiria’s coach, José Mourinho, who had previously worked in the club alongside Robson. In his presentation, Mourinho promptly showcased his personality by stating unequivocally that the club would win next season’s league title. He kept true to his promise and delivered one of the club’s most successful seasons. Fielding the likes of Deco, Ricardo Carvalho, Maniche, and less known players hired from other Portuguese clubs, such as Paulo Ferreira, Pedro Emanuel, Nuno Valente and Derlei, Porto won the 2002–03 Primeira Liga with relative comfort, finishing 11 points ahead of second-placed Benfica. The club also won the UEFA Cup, defeating Celtic in a dramatic extra-time final, to win its second major European title. Mourinho then secured an unprecedented treble for Porto by winning the Taça de Portugal final against his previous club.
The 2003–04 season began with another 1–0 win over União de Leiria, which gave the club its 13th Supertaça. Weeks later, Porto failed to repeat this result in the 2003 UEFA Super Cup, losing 1–0 to Milan. The departure of striker Hélder Postiga was compensated by the signing of South Africa’s Benni McCarthy, whose 20 league goals helped Porto in its league title defence and crowned him the competition’s top scorer. Confident with his team, Mourinho entered the 2003–04 UEFA Champions League. Porto finished second in its group, losing only once to Real Madrid, and advanced to a round-of-16 meeting with Manchester United. Porto scored on the 90th minute of the second leg at Old Trafford to draw 1–1 and advance to the quarter-finals with a 3–2 aggregate win. The team then overcame Lyon and Deportivo La Coruña and reached the Champions League final, where it defeated Monaco 3–0 to lift the club’s second European Champion Clubs’ Cup. A 2–1 loss to Benfica in the Taça de Portugal final, held 10 days before, prevented another treble-winning season.
Life after Mourinho (2004–2010)
The successful European performances of Mourinho’s Porto enhanced the reputations of the coach and players like Carvalho, Ferreira and Deco, all of whom left the club in the aftermath of the Champions League victory. The following season was an atypical one, as the club had three different coaches: Luigi Delneri, Víctor Fernández and José Couceiro. Under Férnandez, Porto won the 2004 Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira and the 2004 Intercontinental Cup, but lost the 2004 UEFA Super Cup to Valencia and was eliminated prematurely in the 2004–05 Taça de Portugal. Recording only 17 wins in 34 matches, Porto lost the Primeira Liga title to Benfica by three points. During this period, Porto was involved in corruption scandal Apito Dourado.
In 2005–06, Dutch coach Co Adriaanse was picked to reorganise the team and return the club to the top of Portuguese football. His tactical discipline and the contribution of new signings Lucho González and Lisandro López led the club to not only retake the Primeira Liga title but also secure its fifth domestic double, after beating holders Vitória de Setúbal in the Taça de Portugal final. Adriaanse’s domestic success did not transfer to the Champions League, as Porto finished in the bottom of its group.
The club began the 2006–07 season with a new coach, Jesualdo Ferreira, signed from neighbours Boavista. Before Ferreira assumed his role, Porto won the season-opening Supertaça, with former club player Rui Barros acting as interim coach. An experienced head coach, Ferreira had never achieved major club level success, but in his first season in Porto he became national champion for the first time. The 2006–07 Primeira Liga title was only secured in a frantic final day, as Porto finished one point above Sporting and two above Benfica. In the following season, the club achieved the Tri for the second time in its history – with López clinching the top goalscorer award –, but lost the Taça and Supertaça finals to Sporting CP. As result of a legal investigation on match fixing in Portuguese football, Porto was punished with the loss of six points, which did not affect its final league classification.
Having claimed a sixth league and cup double in the 2008–09 season, Porto was on course to emulate the Penta of the late 1990s, but the series was broken by Benfica in the following season. Although Ferreira won his first Supertaça and defended the Taça de Portugal title, the team’s failure to claim a fifth consecutive league – finishing third, outside the Champions League-qualifying places – and a 3–0 defeat against Benfica in the final of the Taça da Liga contributed to his resignation at the end of the season. A home win against Benfica prevented the rivals from celebrating the league title at the Estádio do Dragão. Under Ferreira’s steering, Porto always qualified for the Champions League knockout stage, reaching the quarter-finals in 2008–09, where it was eliminated by holders Manchester United.
Villas-Boas and recent years (2010–present)
The arrival of Mourinho’s former assistant André Villas-Boas, in the spring of 2010, set the stage to a highly successful 2010–11 season, which began with a 2–0 victory over Benfica for the Supertaça. Spearheaded by João Moutinho, Silvestre Varela, Falcao and Hulk (the Bola de Prata winner), Porto performed strongly in the Primeira Liga and assured its 25th title with five matches to play, after beating Benfica in its stadium. In addition, the club broke a number of records: biggest distance between champions and runners-up (21 points), most consecutive league wins (16) and highest percentage of points in a 30-game season (93.33%), dropping only six points and finishing the league without defeats, for the first time in its history. Eight years after the 2003 triumph, Porto returned to the UEFA Cup (renamed UEFA Europa League) and reached the final in Dublin’s Aviva Stadium. In an all-Portuguese affair, Porto beat Braga with a goal from the competition’s top goalscorer Falcao and lifted the trophy for the second time, as Villas-Boas became the youngest UEFA competition-winning coach. Four days later, Porto won its third consecutive Taça de Portugal with a convincing 6–2 scoreline, securing their fourth trophy of the season.
As Villas-Boas left for Chelsea, Porto recruited the services of his assistant, Vítor Pereira. For the third straight year, the club began the season with another Supertaça title, which was followed by a 2–0 loss to Barcelona for the 2011 UEFA Super Cup. Although lacking the goalscoring prolificacy of Falcao (sold to Atlético Madrid), Porto was able to revalidate the Primeira Liga title, but was eliminated prematurely from the Taça and Champions League competitions. Transferred to the Europa League, Porto failed to defend its title after being knocked out by Manchester City. In the following season, the club went a stage further in both domestic cup competitions and in the Champions League, where it fell to Málaga in the last-16 round. In the 2012–13 Primeira Liga, Porto reduced the distance to leaders Benfica to two points, before hosting them in the penultimate matchday. In a dramatic turn of events, Porto won with a goal in stoppage time and moved to the top of the league table. An away victory in the last game confirmed the Tri and Porto’s 27th league title – the second without defeats.
Porto entered the 2013–14 season with a new head coach – Paulo Fonseca, signed from 2012–13 Primeira Liga third-placed Paços de Ferreira – but continued the trend of the previous four seasons by winning the Supertaça. This title would be the highlight of the season, as the club underperformed in every other competition it was involved. In the league, Porto led with five points over its pursuers, but a series of compromising results pushed the club down to third place, resulting in the sacking of Fonseca. Failing to overcome the Champions League group stage, Porto reached the Europa League quarter-finals, where they lost 4–1 to the eventual winners Sevilla. In the following weeks, two semi-final losses against Benfica closed the doors to the finals of the Taça de Portugal and Taça da Liga, the latter at home on penalties.
Porto started the 2014–15 season with their biggest budget ever, hiring Spanish head coach Julen Lopetegui. Despite the signing of many new players, they failed to win any silverware, contributing to the biggest hiatus during Pinto da Costa’s presidency, that goes back to 2013. They also equalized, in terms of goals conceded, their biggest defeat in European competitions (6–1 against AEK Athens) and suffered their biggest defeat in the UEFA Champions League (6–1 against Bayern Munich, after the 5–0 loss against Arsenal in 2010). Porto continued their losing trend in the 2015–16 season, making it the second consecutive trophyless season, with the contribution of José Peseiro, who had replaced Julen Lopetegui in January 2016. After the season was over, Peseiro was replaced by Nuno Espírito Santo. 2016–17 season was Porto’s third trophyless season.