Sweden and Portugal are set to play a decisive play-off to participate in next year’s World Cup in Brazil. Whilst trying to decide whether or not I should go to the match in Stockholm on the 19th November, I am recalling the matches I have seen live, with Portugal’s national team. My team!
First match I saw was a friendly as part of the preparation for the England World Cup of 1966. Portugal played Uruguay at the national stadium on the 26th June. José Torres scored all the three goals and my grandmother who had never seen a football match but was very keen on Eusébio felt very sorry for the Uruguayans and said that they should be allowed to score a goal.
I had moved to London in 1968 and one year later Portugal played a friendly on the 10th December 1969. England won by 1-0 after a goal by Jackie Charlton, so Portugal did not at this time revenge being knocked out of the England World Cup three years earlier.
In 1984 Portugal were in the same qualifying group as Sweden for the World Championship of 1986 in Mexico. Thanks to a late goal by Fernando Gomes Portugal could come home with a precious 1-0 victory. That match was seen surrounded by Swedes that had little or no understanding when João Oliveira and I jumped up to celebrate the goal. Much could be said of this Stockholm encounter but it is a story that will have to stand on its own.
Fate had it that Portugal and Sweden would once again play each other, this time for the European Championships. My fourth match was also in Råsunda, Stockholm, and was played on the 23rd September 1987. Even in this match Portugal came out as a winner. An early goal by defender João Pinto ( his only one, in 70 caps) was enough but neither of the two countries would reach the final phase in Germany 1988.
Before the 2004 European Championship that was organized in Portugal the National Team only played friendlies. It was on the 10th September 2003 that I saw Portugal defeat Norway by 1-0. The goal scored by Pedro Pauleta at the Oslo Ullevaal arena. Through our mobile we heard that Swedish foreign minister Anna Lindh had been knifed in Stockholm some hours earlier. Unfortunately she would no longer be with us the next day.