Portugal All-Time XI: Cristiano Ronaldo leads legendary attack

Portugal All-Time XI: Cristiano Ronaldo leads legendary attack

Published Jun. 15, 2024 8:51 p.m. ET

The Summer of Stars kicks off on FOX with the European Championship in Germany and the United States-hosted Copa América. Both tournaments will feature the world's best soccer players, but how many of them are all-time great players?

To answer that question, FOX Sports has put together 11 all-time international teams. Up next is Portugal.

***All-time stats and records for individuals mentioned below refer to men's national team only

GK: Rui Patrício


Caps: 108
Notable clubs: Sporting CP, Wolverhampton, Roma

Vítor Baía is considered to be one of the greatest Portuguese goalkeepers of all-time. Baía is best known for winning 26 titles with Porto, the most legendary club in the Portuguese league. However, Rui Patrício's consistency and longevity in goal cannot be denied. He is one of eight players ever to make 100 appearances for the national team, and has recorded over 300 career clean sheets, with over 50 of them coming for Portugal. Patrício was also the starting goalkeeper for the 2016 team that won the Euros — Portugal's only time winning the tournament — and was named as the starting keeper for the Team of the Tournament.

DF: Joáo Pinto

Caps: 70
Notable clubs: Porto

Having captained the national team in 42 of his 70 appearances, Joáo Pinto is often referred to as Capitão, which translates as "captain" in Portuguese. Pinto is considered one of the greatest Portuguese right backs of all-time, having spent his entire 16-year career with Porto and leading them to nine Portuguese league titles and the 1987 European Cup championship. During that span he made 587 appearances for the club, still the most of any player in Porto history. He also led Portugual to a bronze medal in the 1984 Euros, and was selected as part of the Team of the Tournament that year. Bobby Robson, a former manager for the England national team as well Barcelona, Newcastle United and Porto, is quoted as saying, "He has two hearts and four legs. It's extremely difficult to find a player like him." 

DF: Pepe

Caps: 136
Notable clubs: Porto, Real Madrid, Besiktas

Only two players have made more appearances for the national team than Pepe, and the 41-year-old's presence has become such a fixture for Portugal that he has been named to the 2024 Euros roster as well. Arguably the greatest defender in Portugal's history, Pepe was one of the world's best center backs for a long stretch in the 2010s. Most notably, he made 334 appearances for Real Madrid from 2007 to 2017, winning 13 major trophies in that span, including three Champions League titles. Pepe was also a starter on the 2016 Portugal squad that won the Euros, as well as the 2019 team that won the UEFA Nations League. In the 2022 World Cup, he scored in the Round of 16, becoming the oldest player to ever score in the knockout stage of the World Cup at 39 years old.

DF: Ricardo Carvahlo

Caps: 89
Notable clubs: Porto, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Monaco

One of ten players ever with 89 appearances for the Portuguese national team, Ricardo Carvalho is one of the most decorated defenders in Portugal's history. He made 277 combined appearances for Chelsea and Real Madrid, as well as 118 appearances for Monaco (all competitions). During the 2004 season, he was voted to the UEFA Team of the Year, UEFA Euros Team of the Tournament, and also selected as the UEFA Best Club Defender of the Year. Two years later, he was selected to the 2006 FIFA World Cup All-Star team for his role in leading Portugal to the semifinals, tied for their farthest run ever. Carvalho was also a member of the 2016 side that won the Euros, and additionally led Chelsea to three Premier League titles from 2006 to 2010.

DF: Fernando Couto

Caps: 110
Notable clubs: Porto, Parma, Barcelona, Lazio 

One of six players ever with 110 appearances for the Portuguese national team, Fernando was the first player in their history to reach 100 caps for Portugal back in 2003. During his time with Porto, Parma, Barcelona, and Lazio, he made a combined 559 appearances (all competitions) and won the prestigious double (league title and domestic cup) in each of those three leagues. Couto also led Portugal to a runner-up finish at the 2004 Euros, which was their best finish in the tournament until their 2016 title run.

MF: Luís Figo

Caps: 127
Goals: 32
Notable clubs: Sporting CP, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter Milan

One of three Portuguese players to ever win the coveted Ballon d'Or, Luís Figo is considered one of the greatest midfielders of the 21st century. He retired in 2006 with 127 appearances for Portugal, which at the time was the most in the national team's history. His 32 goals for Portugal are the fourth most ever, with an additional 137 goals at the club level (all competitions) during his career. During his time with Real Madrid's Los Galacticos, he won La Liga Foreign Player of the Year in three consecutive years, and also led the league in assists twice in that span. In addition to his Ballon d'Or win in 2000, he was also named as FIFA's World Player of the Year in 2001. Figo was also named to Pelé's list of the 100 greatest living footballers in 2004, and went on to lead the Champions League in assists that same year.

MF: Deco

Caps: 75
Goals: 19
Notable clubs: Corinthians, Benfica, Porto, Barcelona, Chelsea, Fluminense

One of the few players to have won the UEFA Champions League with two different clubs- doing so with Porto and Barcelona- Deco was one of the model center-midfielders of the mid-to-late 2000s. In 2004, he finished as runner-up for the Ballon d'Or, and was also the UEFA Champions League Man of the Match in the title game that same year. Like Couto, Deco won the double in three different leagues- doing so in Portugal (Porto), Spain (Barcelona), and England (Chelsea). A two-time UEFA Club Midfielder of the Year, he totaled 74 goals for the three aforementioned clubs from 1999 to 2010 (all competitions), and 19 goals in 75 appearances for Portugal.

MF: Rui Costa

Caps: 94
Goals: 26
Notable clubs: Benfica, Fiorentina, AC Milan

Rui Costa is one of three Portuguese players ever to score 25 goals for the national team with at least 90 appearances. The other two? None other than Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo. Nicknamed "The Maestro" for his incredible vision and playmaking ability, Costa scored 61 goals as an attacking midfielder in 468 combined appearances for Fiorentina and AC Milan- going on to be selected in the Serie A Team of the Season a total of three times in that span. He also led the Champions League in assists in the 2002-03 campaign, and additionally experienced similar success with Portugal- going on to be selected as part of the Euros Team of the Tournament two times. When AC Milan signed him in 2001, they spent approximately €41 million on the transfer- breaking their record at the time.

FW: Cristiano Ronaldo

Caps: 206
Goals: 128
Notable clubs: Sporting CP, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus  

Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the greatest players of all time, no matter what era you're looking at. His five Ballon d'Or wins are the second-most of any player ever, trailing only Lionel Messi who won it eight times. In the 2022 World Cup, he became the first player ever to score in five different editions of the tournament, and also became the fifth player ever to appear in 22 career matches. "CR7" is also Portugal's all-time leader in appearances (206) and goals scored (128)- both the top marks ever by a single player in international play. According to the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS), Ronaldo has scored 893 goals at the club and country level, which is the most of any player ever. And to top it off, his list of titles is almost endless- three English Premier League titles, two La Liga titles, two Serie A titles, five Champions League titles, and eight domestic cups across three top-flight leagues. 

FW: Eusébio 

Caps: 64
Goals: 41
Notable clubs: Benfica, Monterrey

Affectionately known as O Reina which translates to "The King", Eusébio was one of the most prolific goalscorers in Portuguese history. A Ballon d'Or winner in 1965 and the runner-up in 1962 and 1966, the IFFHS attributes him with 619 goals at the club and country level- the 12th most of any player ever. He is one of five players all-time to have scored nine goals in a single World Cup, having done so in the 1966 edition of the tournament. For perspective, Cristiano Ronaldo has only recorded eight goals in World Cups despite having played in five different editions. His 0.64 goal per match ratio for Portugal is the highest of any player in the national team's history, having scored 41 goals in 64 matches. 

FW: Paulo Futre 

Caps: 41
Goals: 6
Notable clubs: Sporting CP, Porto, Atlético Madrid, Benfica, Marseille, Reggiana, AC Milan, West Ham United

Despite only scoring six goals in 41 appearances for the Portuguese national team, we couldn't leave out Paulo Futre due to his incredible talent. An Atlético Madrid legend, he scored 52 goals in 205 appearances for them from 1987 to 1993 (all competitions). In 1987, he finished as runner-up for the Ballon d'Or, and previously scored 33 goals in 118 appearances for Porto. Much of his career was hampered by injuries which caused an early retirement at age 32, but he was still a pivotal part of two Copa del Rey titles for Madrid and a Serie A championship for AC Milan. In 1999, World Soccer Magazine listed him in the top 100 greatest footballers of the 20th century.

Honorable mentions

Pauleta, João Moutinho, Nani, Mário Coluna, Bernardo Silva

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