Portuguese football club Sport Lisboa e Benfica has decided to join the ever-growing legion of clubs that make a move on the esports scene. They kept the Portuguese connection by signing Brazilian FIFA player Henrique “Zezinho” Lempke, who will sport the Benfica brand from now on.
Benfica is the most successful football club in their home country, winning the local top tier league – Primeira Liga, a total of 37 times. They have also lifted the Champions League (then called European Champions Cup) on two occasions, the same amount as FC Porto. Unfortunately, nowadays the club is best known for its streak of lost European finals that now spreads across more than half of a century, known in popular culture as the “Guttman curse”.
As you can see, Benfica entering the esports world is somewhat a big deal, especially for the Portuguese scene. Despite them signing a Brazilian instead of a local player, the mere presence of such a popular brand could spark a kid or two to try their hands at becoming an esports pro.
Zezinho himself is not exactly an unknown entity. The South American youngster arrived with a bang at the FIFA 18 Ultimate Team Champions Cup in Manchester two years back. His reaching the final game of that esports tournament caught the eye of Dutch footballing legend Ruud Gullit who signed the player to his very own Team Gullit in May of that year.
Under the Gullit name, Zezinho reached another final at FUT 19 Champions Cup March and fell in the semifinals of last year’s eChampions League. Now sporting the legendary colors of Portugal’s biggest club, Zezinho will hope to stray away from his new team’s notorious streak of finals losses and bring the club some international glory, even if only on the virtual esports pitch.