England vs Portugal – a long history

England and Portugal go way back. English crusaders were keen to help oust the Moors from Lisbon in 1147, and the mutual trade treaty signed in 1294 became Portugal ‘s first ever alliance with another country. Since then there have been many instances of mutual help. England lent a hand in Portugal ‘s wars against Castile (the 1400s) and the French (the 1800s), and the Portuguese stood up and were counted (to the tune of 35,000 dead) in the Great War. Along the way there has been the occasional hiccup in relations, notably the so-called Ultimato Inglês (the ‘English Ultimatum’) of 1890, where Britain threatened military action if the Portuguese didn’t limit their territorial claims in southern Africa . But weighing up the give and take, there has been as much giving as taking.

England ‘s cultural history was certainly marked by the arrival on its shores of Lady Catherine of Braganza in 1661, armed with an immense dowry to wed King Charles II – a dowry that included £500,000 in gold, the town of Bombay and a chest of tea. Thus was England ‘s love affair with the “cuppa” born, and just to make our breakfasts complete, she also introduced us to marmalade. Later, England swapped textiles and textile know-how for the nectar that was/is Port wine; still today there is a significant British presence in the wine industry in the Douro Valley around (O) Porto.

In the last few decades, there has been trading of sorts in footballing terms also. England has mainly exported managers, notably Jimmy Hagan (three titles in a row for Benfica in the early 70s), Malcolm Allison (the Championship and Cup double for Sporting in 1981/2), John Mortimore (the double for Benfica in 1986/7) and Bobby Robson (three titles in a row for FC Porto in the mid-90s). In the last few years, it has been players that have travelled the other way to the riches of the English Premiership: Luís Boa Morte (Fulham), Hugo Viana ( Newcastle ), Hélder Postiga (Tottenham) and Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), among others.

International rivalry on the pitch goes back to just after World War II and begins with a good old-fashioned “drubbing”. England travelled to Portugal and on May 25 th , 1947, beat their hosts, rather undiplomatically it must be said, 10-0, with four goals apiece from the legendary Tommy Lawton and Stan Mortenson. England ‘s record since and including that game is: played 19, won 9, drawn 7, lost 3, with 42 goals for and 22 against … but of those 42 goals, 20 were in the first three games: Portugal lost the next two, in the early 50s, 3-5 and 2-5.

Perhaps the most memorable game between the two countries was the semi-final of the 1966 World Cup. Hosts England, riding on a wave of public enthusiasm that coincided with the crest of the ‘Swinging Sixties’, would go on to win the competition but first had to beat Portugal, who had seen off the mighty Brazil in the group stage and had been a part of one of the most dramatic games in the history of the World Cup in the quarter-finals: the turnaround of a 0-3 deficit against North Korea to win 5-3.

The star of that game with a hat-trick was, of course, Eusébio da Silva Ferreira, or just Eusébio to you and me. The semi-final against England saw him getting caught up in Nobby Stiles’ barbed-wire tackling, but he still managed a penalty to off-set Bobby Charlton’s brace. Portugal went on to win third place (2-1 over Russia).

Portugal got a little bit of revenge by beating England 1-0 in the 1986 World Cup Finals in Mexico , but Portuguese euphoria was short-lived; they went out at the group stage, England in the quarter-finals.

The next significant meeting was much more recently, in the group stage of the European Championship of 2000. England were two-up within twenty minutes through Scholes and MacManaman and appeared to be coasting. But Luís Figo for one was having none of it; on 22 minutes, he took the ball into the England half and unleashed a tremendous drive from 30 yards that deflected slightly off Tony Adams and left David Seaman standing. João Pinto and Nuno Gomes got the message and added the two that would beat England and help to put them out. Portugal went on to the semi-finals and the infamous 1-2 defeat to France. So Portugal and England have been allies over centuries and rivals on the football field for the last 60 years or so. During Euro 2004, their more recent football rivalry may be renewed – but hopefully in the same spirit of healthy competitiveness as some of the old alliances were made.