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Mário Esteves Coluna ( ; born August 6, 1935 at Inhacamarker, Portuguese East Africamarker) is a former Portuguesemarker and Mozambicanmarker footballer. His nickname is "O Monstro Sagrado" ('The sacred monster'). In 1999, he was voted 60th in the European player of the Century election held by the IFFHS ahead of Gunnar Gren.

Coluna was first noticed in Mozambique, playing at Desportivo of Lourenço Marques, where he was assigned to Benfica in 1954/55, the team he played until 1969/70. He won 10 National Championships, in 1954/55, 1956/57, 1959/60, 1960/61, 1962/63, 1963/64, 1964/65, 1966/67, 1967/68 and 1968/69, and 6 Cups of Portugal in 1955, 1957, 1959, 1962, 1964 and 1969. He won the European Cup twice with Benfica, in 1961 and 1962, and also played in the finals of 1963, 1965 and 1968, this last time as the captain. In the 8 of December 1970, Coluna made is farewell game in Estádio da Luz with Benfica before moving to Lyon. in this tribute to his career, where invited to play some of the biggest Football Stars back then (Cruiff, Hurst, Suarez, Bobby Moore, and many others).

He played 57 times for the Portugal national team, scoring 8 goals. His first appearance was in a friendly match with Scotland on May 4, 1955, losing 0-3, and his last on December 11, 1968, in a 2-4 defeat to Greece, in a World Cup qualifying match.

Coluna captained the legendary team of the "Magriços" in all, except the first, of the games of the World Cup 1966 finals, where Portugal reached third place.

He also played for Lyon, in Francemarker, in 1970/71 and 1971/72, before retiring.

European Cup Finals

Coluna played five European Cup finals with S.L. Benfica. The first against FC Barcelona in 1961 (1961 European Cup Final) where Béla Guttmann´s Benfica beat the Spanish formation for 3-2 in Bern. Coluna Scored a fantastic goal in this game a long range volley impossible for Ramallets to defend. The Barcelona FC squad included player's such as Ladislao Kubala, Sándor Kocsis and Zoltán Czibor's.The Second final was next year this time against the 5 time champions Real Madrid. Coluna Scored once again in S.L. Benfica victory 5-3 against the Spanish Giants.The next three finals Benfica lost. In the Wembley final against AC Milan, Coluna met Giovanni Trapattoni that would become S.L. Benfica's coach (2004/05) and a fan Favourite in Estádio da Luzmarker. The final against the Italian squad is a bad memory for Coluna since he was injured by Trapattoni and S.L. Benfica lost it. Nowaday's Coluna still can't forgive the Italian, and says:"I´m Thankfull for the championship he has won for S.L. Benfica as a Benfica Fan, but I can´t forgive what he as done to me!. The other two finals where against Inter Milan (1965) and Manchester United (1968) Benfica lost both.In 16 Seasons , Mário Coluna achieved 5 finals of the European cup.

Playing Style

Strong at midfield, Coluna was known for the way he played on the field because of his elegant and efficient style. Coluna used to score long distance goals with ease. He was also known for is stamina, that allowed him to control all the areas in the field. In his early days in S.L. Benfica he was tested as a Central Forward by Otto Glória,because of his great technical skills, but he achieved greater notoriety, as a Central Midfielder

Football Federation of Mozambique

After Mozambique became independent in 1975, Coluna held the post of President of the Football Federation of Mozambique. He also served as the country's Minister of Sports, from 1994 to 1999.

Honours and Awards


10x Portuguese Liga:

1954/55, 1956/57, 1959/60, 1960/61, 1962/63, 1963/64, 1964/65, 1966/67, 1967/68 and 1968/69

6x Portuguese Cup:

1955, 1957, 1959, 1962, 1964 and 1969

5x Uefa Champions Cup Finals

Winner: 1961 and 1962

Runner-Up:1963, 1965 and 1968


World Cup 1966: Bronze Medal (Third Place)

Facts and Memories

  • Coluna was an influential figure in Benfica Locker room. Younger players as a sign of respect used to call him "Sr Coluna" (mr. Coluna).
  • In European Cup Final against Real Madrid a young Eusébio, asked for "Sr Coluna´s" permission to shoot a penalty kick.
  • He is probably the greatest football symbol in Estádio da Luzmarker alongside with Eusébio.
  • Mario Coluna was nicknamed by fans "O Monstro Sagrado" ("The Sacred Monster").
  • He his the Central Midfielder with the greatest number of games with S.L. Benfica.

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