Thursday May 15 2014

Bela Gutman: The man behind Benfica's curse?

Bela Gutman. Could he be the man behind

Bela Gutman. Could he be the man behind Benfica's European cup bad luck? Courtesy Photo 

By Compiled by Nelson Bwire

Portuguese club Benfica will forever keep remembering the man behind both their misery and their happiness- Bela Guttman.

Benfica for the 8th time, last night failed to win a European final. Despite playing so well through out the game, they fell to Sevilla in penalties, making it 52 years and still going with out a European cup.

It looks like Benfica is still walking under a spell of a one Hungarian coach named Guttman who apparently cursed the club after he was denied a pay rise.

Gutman condemned the club to a whole 100 years in European cup drought. Benfica legend Eusebio even went to Guttman's grave to pray for the curse to be lifted.

Its now 52 years since he cast a spell on them. They have played eight finals and have lost all.

The eight finals
1963 European Cup - Benfica 1 - 2 AC Milan
1965 European Cup - Benfica 0 - 1 Inter Milan
1968 European Cup - Benfica 1 - 4 Manchester United (Extra time)
1983 UEFA Cup - Benfica 1 - 2 Anderlecht (On aggregate)
1988 European Cup - Benfica 0 - 0 PSV Eindhoven (5-6 Penalties)
1990 European Cup - Benfica 0 - 1 AC Milan
2013 Europa League - Benfica 1-2 Chelsea
2014 Europa League - Benfica 0-0 Sevilla (AET, 4-2 Penalties)

NB: five are champions league finals and three are Europa

Benfica players react to a missed goal

Benfica players react to a missed goal opportunity in their match with Sevilla last night. Photo by AFP


Bela Gutman born on 27th January 1899 in Budapest (Austria-Hungary). He is remembered to have coached most of the worlds big clubs including AC Milan, Sao Paulo FC, FC Porto and its rival club Benfica.

He achieved great success at Benfica, guiding the club to two European cups in two successive years. Together with Márton Bukovi and Gusztáv Sebes, Guttmann formed a triumvirate of radical Hungarian coaches who pioneered the 4–2–4 formation.

Despite having a very "good time " in soccer as player and a coach later, Butman did not come to the limelight until he signed for Italian giants AC Milan in 1953. In his second season at AC Milan, he guided them to the top of the table with 19 games. However he fell out with the top command and was sacked.

Gutman later told a stunned press conference "I have been sacked even though I am neither a criminal nor a homosexual. Goodbye."

In 1958, Gutman again got lucky and was appointed manager of Portuguese club FC Porto, he then went on to help the club overhaul a five point lead by rivals Benfica to win the Portuguese' title before he was snatched by rival club Benfica.

On Joining Benfica, Gutman rubbed the entire club board and players the wrong way by sacking 20 senior players without ceremony and promoted "naive" youth players who interestingly won the league title twice.

Under Guttmann, Benfica, with a team that included club legend Eusebio (whom he allegedly signed from a barber shop) further won the European Cup twice in a row. In 1961 they beat Barcelona 3–2 in the final and in 1962 they retained the title, coming from 2–0 and 3–2 down to beat Real Madrid 5–3.

After the 1962 European Cup Final, Guttmann approached the Benfica board of directors and asked for a pay rise which was turned down. According to some sources, he cursed the club with the following words: "Not in a hundred years will Benfica win the European Champions Cup without me."


A Benfica fan prays during a European cup final

A Benfica fan prays during a European cup final with Chelsea in Amsterdam. Benfica went on to lose the game to Chelsea. (1-2). Courtesy photo

1.Any time that Benfica play near Guttmann's grave, somebody will take flowers

2.The curse even prompted Eusebio to visit Guttman's grave to pray for it to be broken.

3.Guttman is said to have asked for a pay rise after winning the European Cup two years in a row with Benfica which the club turned down leading to the curse.

4.In May 1924 in Olympic games games against Poland and Egypt in Paris. During the preparations for the competition Guttmann objected to the fact that there were more officials than players in the Hungary squad.

5.He also complained that the hotel was more suitable for socialising than match preparation and to demonstrate his disapproval he hung dead rats on the doors of the travelling officials.

6.Guttmann briefly took charge at Vasas SC after the second world war, before joining Ciocanul in Romania. Due to food shortages, Guttman insisted his salary be paid in vegetables but subsequently walked out on the Romanian club after a director attempted to intervene in team selection.

7.He rejoined Ujpest FC then known as Ujpesti TE, and won another Hungarian League title before succeeding Ferenc Puskás Sr. as coach at Kispest AC. However he fell out with Ferenc Puskás Jr., again over team selection, and once again Guttmann walked.