'Curse of Bela Guttman' Abides as Portugal's Benfica Loses Another European Soccer Final

Late coach put the whammy on team in 1962 after being turned down for a raise; promised no relief until 2062.

AP

The late, great Portuguese soccer star Eusebio once went to Bela Guttman's grave, asking his old coach at Benfica to lift the curse. Evidently Guttmann wasn't listening, because on Wednesday night the team lost the Europa League final to Sevilla, 4-2 on penalties.

It was the eighth European championship final Benfica has dropped since Guttmann left the team in 1962 after failing to get a pay raise despite leading the squad to two straight European Cup final victories. His legendary parting shot: "Not in a hundred years from now will Benfica ever be European champion."

Fifty-two years down, 48 to go.

Guttman starred with Hungary's all-Jewish Hakoah Wien team in the 1920s. At the same time Babe Ruth was turning the New York Yankees into sport's greatest dynasty after being sold in 1918 by the Boston Red Sox. It wasn't until 86 years later, in 2004, that the Sox broke the "curse of the Bambino" by winning a World Series, beating the St. Louis Cardinals.

Patience, Benfica.
 

Spiegel Online / Berenberg Verlag