Benfica President Luís Filipe Vieira gave an extended interview to Portuguese television channel TVI on Wednesday night. In an incredibly frank and forthright discussion, the 67-year old real estate tycoon outlined his vision for the future of the club, ahead of this year’s presidential elections. What follows is a translation of his ambitious manifesto.
INVESTING IN YOUTH
"Benfica are stronger. We prepared (for this) season since late October/early November, principally in the positions that we understood (to be) important. We were searching for players that we understood (to be) possible and we wanted for their youth. Benfica are younger and will get younger (with) every year that passes."
"Benfica will maintain a structure of great experience, but will open the door to more youth. The investment that we made this year will mean that in the next three or four years we will have to invest little or nothing. Only in a special case will we go to the market. Within Seixal we are well-set in all positions."
"Rui Vitória is a great coach and a great manager, that identifies with Benfica and with the whole project... from the kids to the youth teams, he knows all of the players at Benfica. We have around 250 athletes at Seixal daily. At the moment I can guarantee that we have good players for all positions."
"In ten years, you will see that we have already produced players. We will have 100% of (our) players made in Seixal. With long-term planning I have no doubt that we will get there. A large part of the (current) Portuguese international youth teams were formed at Benfica. There is no comparison between the Benfica of now and the one of fifteen years ago."
"The greatest joy that I will have is to prove that you can have a Benfica "made in Benfica". At this moment we have 56 kids residing at Seixal, 24 with foster families. We hope to expand to 120. Those that know me know that my focus will be on Seixal, (my) main project."
“Renato’s replacement? We think that what we have here will suffice for us. We have André Horta, who has technical quality. The other? Danilo plays at number 8. Why is he not part of the Champions League squad? He hasn’t played for a long time. But the coach will know (how to) find solutions.”
“I can say that Benfica only have one player for the positions of centre-forward and number 8. Taking this (into account), there is always the option of coming to Seixal for each position. The B team has an average age of 19.3 years. What Benfica did was to reinforce in various positions that the team needed, but with young players like [Andrija] Živković or [Branimir] Kalaica.”
BUILDING THE CLUB OVERSEAS
"We are already in China, (and) we will have a partnership with a strong partner. We want to get closer in the digital network too."
LAST SEASON'S ACHIEVEMENTS
"We wanted three titles, a European final, and fifty titles in Benfica's various sporting divisions. We achieved it, (but) we have to continue dreaming of a European final. Last year we rattled Bayern Munich. They were rattled by us. More and more, we have to think like this. Domestically, we always want to win, and in Europe, we have to get there. One day, (that) success will arrive."
THIS SEASON'S TARGETS
"The main objectives are affirming ourselves in Europe and the "Tetracampeanato" [fourth consecutive championship]. Benfica want to make history. (The club) has never done the "Tetra", and (now) it has this possibility. We have to stick together. We know how it was last year, in that we moved to the front [in the title race] at the right time. This identity makes it increasingly natural for Benfica to win. We are stronger than one year ago."
BENFICA AS A FAMILY
"Benfica is a family (for me). There is no other way... it would be to difficult to be at Benfica for so long and for it not to be like this. The players know of my commitment to the club. Benfica have a structure that is at a world-class level and is recognised by great clubs, like Bayern [Munich]. There is no step to take without Benfica taking it first. Afterwards, it is easy to copy. Benfica is the club of "Lusofonia" [the Portuguese-speaking world]."