Club: SL Benfica
Growth type: Standard/Lasting
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- After trying boxing, in unorthodox fights, with no coherent rules - circumstance that might have helped shape the combat spirit that always marked him - basketball and Track & Field (where, at around age 16, he established a national height jump record of 182,5 cm) Coluna started at football at age 15. He spent sixteen years with Benfica, and was a crucial part of one of the most successful periods in the club's history. In his first year at the club, Benfica won the Portuguese league and cup double, and by May 1955 Coluna was already a Portuguese international, making his debut in a 3-0 defeat against Scotland.
Over the next decade Coluna won a further six league titles and four Portuguese Cups as well as back to back European Cup wins in 1961 and 1962, scoring the winning goal himself in the 1961 final and also scoring on the 1962 final match. On the next final, in Wembley, against AC Milan, Coluna met Giovanni Trapattoni, that would later become Benfica's coach (2004/05) and a fan favourite in Estádio da Luz. The final against the Italian squad is of bad memory for Coluna since he was injured by a cynical Trapattoni tackle and SL Benfica lost it. Since no substitutions were allowed, Coluna bravely endured what he could of the game, even with a severely hurt foot. Santana, another Benfica player, was also "taken down" in that match by the brute AC Milan defence. Coluna said: "I'm thankful for the championship he has won for Benfica as a Benfica fan, but I can't forgive what he as done to me. He almost torn my foot in half. It was a pity, because we had the team to win that match, it should have happened. I was invited by an Italian TV Station to show up - together with Trapattoni - in 2005, for an interview. I showed up but he didn't. He didn't have the courage to look me in the eyes".
He played in a total of 5 European Cup finals in the 1960's. By 1966 he was the captain of the national team as Portugal qualified for the World Cup finals for the first time in their history.
When playing the Intercontinental Cup, in Brazil - Maracanã Stadium - against Pelé's Santos, Brazilian reporters started calling him "The Didi of Portugal".
At the World Cup in England, he led the team through to the semi-finals, inspired by the goals of his Benfica team mate Eusébio. The host nation ended their dreams in the semi-final, but Portugal finished a creditable third. He was called to the FIFA XI, the following year, celebrating Zamora's 65th birthday, on a FIFA XI Vs Spain match. Helenio Herrera, the FIFA XI coach, gave him the captaincy of the team.
Back with Benfica, three more league titles and two more cup wins followed, and by the time Coluna left Benfica, in 1970, his total of honours had reached nineteen, including an amazing ten league titles. Coluna was a "protector". He didn't allow anyone to treat his colleagues on the pitch with lack of respect. His colleagues felt protected by his aura and the respect the opponents had for Coluna. His most intimidating sentence was: "If you touch that kid again you'll leave the pitch with one leg licking the other". It's possible that whoever fouled Simôes or Eusébio didn't know Coluna was a Boxer in his teens.
After nearly 700 appearances for Benfica, Coluna moved to France to end his career with Olympique Lyonnais. Following his retirement, Coluna went on to work in football administration, serving as President of the football federation in his native Mozambique, and during the 1990s he spent five years as Mozambique's Minister of Sport.
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 his stamina, that allowed him to control all the areas of the field. In his early days in SL Benfica he was tested as a central forward by Otto Glória, but he achieved great notoriety as a central Midfielder.
* Coluna was an influential figure in Benfica's locker room. Younger players as a sign of respect used to call him "Senhor Coluna" (mr. Coluna). Eusébio, to this day, still calls him Senhor Coluna.
* In the European Cup Final against Real Madrid, a young Eusébio asked for "Senhor Coluna´s" permission to shoot a penalty kick.
* He is probably the greatest football symbol in Estádio da Luz alongside Eusébio.
* Mario Coluna was nicknamed by fans "O Monstro Sagrado" ("The Sacred Monster").
* He is the central midfielder with the greatest number of games with SL Benfica.
SL Benfica (POR)
Appearances: 677; Goals: 150
Portuguese Championships (10): 1954-55, 1956-57, 1959-60, 1960-61, 1962-63, 1963-64, 1964-65, 1966-67, 1967-68, 1968-69
Portuguese Cups (7): 1954-55, 1956-57, 1958-59, 1961-62, 1963-64, 1968-69, 1969-70
Champions League (2): 1960-61, 1961-62
Champions League Finals (3): 1962-63, 1964-65, 1967-68
Appearances: 57; Goals: 8
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http://www.zerozero.pt/jogador/mario_co ... ault/11749
http://www.fifa.com/worldfootball/stati ... yer=44012/