Day #5; Benfica Day!
The 7:30am breakfast approached quickly as many were still dragging from the long day yesterday. Everyone made it down on time or close to so we were able to eat and leave for Lisbon! We had a 2 hour drive ahead of us to arrive at one of the most infamous clubs in the world Benfica. We would start the day with a tour of the Stadium.
The tour guide brought us throughout the stadium showing us all that Benfica had to offer. She explained the history of the construction of this stadium as well as the off site complexes for training. This Stadium has been used in the euro 2004, as well as the 2014 Champions league final between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid and of course the home of all Benfica games! We were permitted into the press conference room, the locker rooms, the field level viewing and access to the VIP viewing area. After seeing the Stadium at length we traveled to Cidade do Futebol.
This is the national training center for all teams men and women for sub-13 up to the senior teams (Yes we saw Ronaldo’s locker). There were little things about the setup here that made the trip special and you could see there is a lot of pride being a powerful soccer nation even with a smaller population than other top national teams. If you followed along on Instagram you saw many pictures and videos that tell the experience we had and shows the impressive fields that are used by the senior team and juniors. Everyone got plenty of photos and videos inside that will tell the story all over again upon the return to USA. The trophies were showcased on the way out with their proudest championship being the most recent European championship which was held in France in 2016. They are the current champions and will be until 2020…
After a long morning of travel and touring it was time to grab a bite to eat at Lisboa burguer house and pizza. It was a very commercialized restaurant and different than many of the places we have been at throughout the week. It was a nice lunch and separation before returning back to Benfica Stadium for our tour of the Museum and training session! The museum felt a little too fast but the boys were able to see the incredible success of the club in Futebol but also many other sports. It is a winning Club who continues to impress newcomers and strengthen the passion of their long time fans! The trophy case alone had some of the boys not believing it was possible to win this much. The museum is something that impresses everyone who enters as it is strategically put together to represent everything Benfica and the hard work that goes into making it an important club!
The boys finally reached the time to train. It was a long day up to this point and I could see the kids were getting anxious to play. So we were fortunate to stay in the away teams locker room inside the Benfica stadium to prepare for training and return to after for showers. This isn’t just any locker room but more of a place where players/legends like: David Beckham, Ibrahimovic, Ronaldo, Pirlo, Raul etc. Have prepared for games. It’s tough for some of the boys to really understand how great it is to be welcomed into these type of places. The training was run by Andre’ who is a coach of Benfica and assisted in coordinating all of the events of today’s trip. The session was enjoyable and many of the players enjoyed the training. At the end Andre had some nice things to say about the boys in terms of their quality for the age group. He had something basic planned and they exceeded his expectations quickly which he was happy about. The training finished around 6:15pm we made our way back into the stadium for one final picture and straight to the locker room to shower and get on the bus for a return to the Hotel!
We arrived at the hotel around 9:45pm for dinner and off to bed! Tomorrow the boys will be playing Leiria in the morning then off to lunch in o tolego and then returning to Lisbon to see the city before heading to the Sporting game at night!
Talk to you all tomorrow! What an eventful day!