Bela Guttmann was one of the greatest managers in the game’s history but he would eventually become famous for something that has harmed Benfica a lot.
Bela Guttmann was probably a once in a lifetime managers in the history of football. However, it was the events of the 1962 European Cup that would always make him the pioneer of perhaps the biggest curse in sporting history.
For Boston Red Sox, it took 86 years to finally break the Curse of the Bambino. Chicago Cubs haven’t broken theirs in the last 104 years.
In the annals of football and sporting hoodoos, Benfica have some way to go.
Since 1962, the Portuguese giants haven’t won a single European final. The curse of Bela Guttmann lives on and no matter how good Benfica have been in the eight European finals since then, they’ve always lost.
Guttmann helped Benfica to back-to-back victories in the European Cup. Benfica were on their way towards becoming the sort of football giant Real Madrid are at the moment. However, things went bitter the moment Bela Guttmann guided his team to a European Cup win over Real Madrid in 1962.
The astute tactician requested a pay raise based on his achievements. However, rather than trying to secure their celebrated manager, the ownership refused.
Upon leaving his beloved Benfica, sad and hurt, Bela Guttmann allegedly cursed the club, stating “Not in a hundred years from now will Benfica ever be European champions.”
And while there are a lot of arguments about how the superstition or the curse had nothing to do with it, Benfica have remarkably always struggled in Europe.
And while Bela Guttmann did say a year later that Benfica will become Champions of Europe again, it never happened.
In the years since then, they’ve lost the AC Milan, Inter Milan, Manchester United, PSV Eindhoven, Anderlecht, Seville and Chelsea.
Benfica and Portugal legend Eusebio, who always credited his success to his former manager, was the team’s star as Benfica headed to the European Cup final in Vienna where Guttmann is buried. The talented forward prayed at his former manager’s grave and requested the curse to be lifted. Sadly though, the Eagles lost the final to AC Milan.
And while Benfica have done a lot of things to lift the curse, including putting up the former manager’s statue, things have not changed at all.
Bela Guttmann was a master tactician and revolutionary in his approach. He was one of the pioneering Hungarian coaches who introduced the 4-2-4 formation. Just like Mourinho, he never liked staying at one club for more than two season, openly stating that “the third season is fatal.”
As a coach he guided Benfica to 2 European Cups, 2 league titles and the Taca de Portugal.
At present, Benfica are stronger than ever but when it comes to wooing away audiences in the Champions League, Aguias are far behind. As things stand, the club still has around 43 years more before the infamous curse is lifted and perhaps then Bela Guttmann would see his record broken by a lucky manager.