Thursday marked the tenth anniversary of the inauguration of the Caixa Futebol Campus, Benfica's state-of-the-art training centre and youth academy. Over the past decade, the facility has produced a host of talented players, including Renato Sanches, Bernardo Silva, André Gomes, Ivan Cavaleiro, João Cancelo, André Horta, José Gomes and Gonçalo Guedes.
The training complex is sponsored by Portuguese bank Caixa Geral de Depósitos, and is situated in Seixal, within the district of Setúbal, on the southern bank of the Rio Tejo (River Tagus). It cost around €15 million to build, and houses both grass and synthetic training pitches. The campus is also home to a small stadium which seats approximately 2,700 supporters, where Benfica B play their home games.
Ten teams train at Seixal, from five different age categories, under the watchful eye of 27 coaches. The complex hosts approximately 250 athletes each day, and includes accommodation for over 60 youth players. There are currently 56 youngsters resident in Seixal, 24 of whom live with host families. Benfica President Luís Filipe Vieira plans to double these numbers in the coming years.
The current Director General of the academy, former Benfica and Portugal star Nuno Gomes, had the following birthday message for the training complex.
"Congratulations to Benfica, to the Caixa Futebol Campus, and to all who (have been) working for Benfica since the beginning."
"I had the pleasure of being part of the first team that trained here in Seixal, a centre that has provided - and still provides - excellent working conditions."
"In the years since the inauguration, the infrastructure has grown and will continue to grow and evolve. (There are) more and better training facilities for the coaches and players. Here, one lives Benfica every day!"
"It was with much pride that I accepted this position. (It is) a position of great responsibility, but I knew that I would be surrounded by competent people."
In December 2015, Benfica received the prize for the Best Academy of the Year at the Globe Soccer Awards in Dubai, much to the delight of Gomes.
"It is an award that fills us with pride... it is a sign that we are working well. There are very few academies that are better than ours in terms of their working conditions."