Benfica 'curse': What is the Curse of Bela Guttman and where does it rank among sports greatest superstitions?
Benfica lost their eighth-straight European cup final with many fans blaming the curse put on them by their former manager 52 years ago
Thursday 15 May 2014
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.
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