The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Jesus fails to lift Benfica curse as the jinxed Portuguese club loses another European final

  • Print

TURIN, Italy - Sports fans are by nature a superstitious lot and are no strangers to their clubs being "cursed."

It took the Boston Red Sox 86 years to break the Curse of the Bambino, while for the Chicago Cubs, it's 104 years and counting. So in the annals of great sporting hoodoos, Portuguese football club Benfica has a way to go.

However, after eight defeats in European finals since 1962, it becomes harder to deny that the club's Bela Guttman curse lives on.

The Portuguese club was arguably the better side over the 120 minutes of Wednesday's Europa League final, but ultimately lost 4-2 to Sevilla on penalties after the match ended goalless.

It is the second successive year that Benfica players have had to console themselves with runner-up medals, after losing to Chelsea in the final of the same competition last season.

"The players fought but they lacked a bit of luck again," Benfica captain Luisao said. "Once again, in a final, the ball just didn't go in."

Benfica coach Jorge Jesus and several of the players laughed off talk of the infamous curse in the buildup to the final, but it has now been 52 years since coach Guttman stormed out and the club has failed in every single one of its subsequent European title clashes.

Known as the Jose Mourinho of his era, Guttman had just led Benfica to back-to-back European Cup victories and the Portuguese club looked set to rule the international stage for years to come.

However, shortly after steering his side to victory over Real Madrid in 1962, Guttman quit when his request for a pay rise was turned down.

On leaving he allegedly cursed the club, declaring "not in a hundred years from now will Benfica ever be European champion."

And so far it hasn't.

It has lost to AC Milan (twice), Inter Milan, Manchester United and PSV Eindhoven in the European Cup and Anderlecht, Chelsea and now Benfica in the Europa League or UEFA Cup as it was formerly known.

The last European Cup final it was involved in was held in Vienna, where Guttman is buried, and legend Eusebio even went to the grave of his former manager to pray for the curse to be lifted.

It had little effect and Benfica remains jinxed.

Jesus bullishly said in the pre-match press conference that he didn't believe in any sort of hoodoo, adding: "most of the players don't even know about these statistics. It's folklore."

However, after once again bemoaning his team's poor luck in a final and saying "the best team did not win the Europa League," Jesus may be rethinking his opinion on the curse.

Benfica fans will be consoling themselves that there only 48 years to go.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.