Benfica Shirt History
With 38 Primeira Liga titles in the bag, the current Champions of Portugal, Benfica (2023), is one of the most decorated clubs to come out of the nation. The side, based in Lisbon, has a long-standing relationship with one particular supplier, but let’s take a look back at some of their classic strips and sponsor history.
Benfica Shirt Checklist
Benfica Kit Manufacturer History
1997 – present – Adidas
The Portuguese giants’ current partnership with Adidas has lasted 26 years in total, but with an agreement in place until 2027 it looks set to reach the three-decade mark. This, along with their spell in the 80’s, makes it one of the most successful shirt manufacturing deals in football, at least in terms of longevity.
As you can imagine, there has been some remarkable shirts produced within this period of time, but the bar was set very high with the first collection which was worn in 1997/98. Three strips, three different ways to bring a polo collar together. The red home shirt with white details had a V-neck neckline with ‘S.L.B’ written across it, the black away jersey with both red and white touches had a shoelace neckline, while the white centre crest third strip had a button. All three are definitely collectors items.
For big moments on the pitch, the 2004/05 range also has its place in the heart of Benfica lovers. ‘As Águias’ (The Eagles) hadn’t won a Portuguese league title since 1993/94, so given that they managed to end that barren spell in that campaign, those strips will no doubt symbolise huge relief.
If you like a shirt with a personalised club print in the background, then take a look at 2013/14 and the 2014/15 home strips. The eagle from the club crest was imprinted to the left of the chest area in 2013/14, while a compass design ran elegantly through the 2014/15 shirt. The embossed compass was inspired from a landmark compass in Lisbon which was a gift from South Africa in 1960.
Adidas has presented Benfica with some clean away jerseys since their partnership begun with one of the best coming in 2018/19. It was an all-white strip with a black and white Benfica emblem, a black neckline with a small subtle red hoop looping across the top and black sponsorship features. They haven’t been without their questionable designs though, with the baby pink 2007/08 top, which has one light grey arm and side, springing to mind immediately.
Moving back to home jerseys, in 2020/21 the German sportswear brand decided to ‘mix it up’ with the club’s home top by removing any white – a colour which is usually a cert to feature. However, they did go traditional with the typical tone of ‘Benfica red’ as the base colour. Replacing the white details were black and matte gold features.
Finally, 2023/24 was a year which Adidas had to smash with it being the clubs 120th anniversary and I think it would be fair to say that it has been mission accomplished. For this season, Benfica have a classical home shirt with its main feature being the golden panels running down its side, a black away top with five thin, broken stripes in five different colours running vertically down the middle to represent Benfica supporters in five different continents, and a white environmentally friendly third kit which has side panels and a bottom hem made from remaining fabrics. As a result, the pattern is not identical on all versions, making each one unique.
1994 – 1997 – Olympic
During a period where they also secured a partnership with the Portuguese national team, Olympic also had a deal in place with Benfica, arguably Portugal’s biggest club. The 1995/96 and 1996/97 collections were fairly ‘standard Benfica’, but the 1994/95 strips had small, slight twists.
The home shirt in 1994/95 had a subtle horizontal pattern imprinted into its background, while the away strip, which was predominantly white with red details, had a smart pattern printed by its sleeve cuffs – it really brought a lot to it.
1990 – 1994 – Hummel
Danish brand, Hummel, had the honours of working with Benfica for a total of four seasons and within that time frame we saw the famous Hummel chevrons utilised in numerous different ways. In each campaign, both the home and away jerseys were matching styles in contrasting colours.
In 1991/92, not only were they printed largely on each arm, they were elegantly stitched into the V of the V-neck neckline and sleeve cuffs. 1992/93 saw the chevrons again on the arms and sleeve cuffs, but also hooping through the middle of the polo collar. Finally, in 1993/94, Hummel again used the chevrons on the polo collar, arms and sleeve cuffs, but this time they didn’t put as many.
1978 – 1990 – Adidas
This was the start of Adidas’ and Benfica’s blossoming relationship. Each of the strips had Adidas Originals branding and ‘simple but effective’ would be the best phrase to describe them.
A classic, recognisable jersey came in the form of the 1985/86 away shirt. It was white with thin red vertical stripes running down its base and diagonally on its arms. Stripes were also utilised in both the 1986/87 home and away jerseys but this time they were tonal and ran horizontally.
1971 – 1972 – Lacoste
Until Adidas in 1978, Benfica had only ever had one shirt manufacturer before this and it was also their first ever supplier. The brand used was Lacoste and as per Football Kit Archive, the French company, which doesn’t typically delve into football, had only ever partnered with Roma before this.
Sadly, though, as much as we all would have liked to have seen it, the Lacoste crocodile didn’t actually appear on the kits.
Benfica Shirt Sponsor History
Given their size, Benfica has undoubtedly have been a sought-after club for sponsorship since their formation, so let’s see which brands have been the lucky ones…
2015 – present – Fly Emirates
In 2015, Benfica became part of the prestigious list of clubs which Fly Emirates sponsor. The Dubai based airline, which is highly recognisable across the football world, also works with Olympique Lyonnais, AC Milan, Real Madrid and Arsenal.
Fly Emirates is labelled one of the ‘largest airlines in the world’ and from 2015 until 2020, their branding simply read ‘Fly Emirates’. In 2020, this switched to ‘Emirates Fly Better’. Neither version looks bad, with neither being ‘overdone’.
2013 – 2014 – Moche
For two campaigns, Portuguese fashion brand, Moche, featured on the Eagles’ away shirts. This was fantastic exposure for the company as their addition to the shirt looked smart and fitted in well.
2009 – 2015 – MEO
Up until 2012, MEO, a Portuguese mobile and fixed telecommunications service, appeared on the away and third jerseys. For the three remaining years of the partnership, the company then switched to only appear on the home shirts.
For parts of their deal, MEO featured on the shirts with a black sticker background and if we’re being honest then it really didn’t look too good. When it was simply Meo in white text, it looked much, much better.
In 2013/14 and 2014/15, there were also variations where the MEO branding was written out in a line like format.
2008 – 2009 – Sapo ADSL
Sapo ADSL is Portuguese internet provider which has a famous frog logo. We are pleased to say that the frog did appear on the Benfica shirt and although it looked slightly childish, it made it memorable.
2007 – 2013 – TMN
TMN was one of Portugal’s largest mobile network operators, but coincidentally they merged with the aforementioned MEO to become a single brand in 2014.
In their first and final season, TMN sponsored the away shirt, but for everything in-between they appeared on the home jersey.
Until 2011, TMN featured with a blue background, but it become more of an attractive sponsor when this was removed.
2005 – 2008 – PT
In all but their final season, PT sponsored all of the Benfica strips. PT, which stands for Portugal Telecom, is now known as Altice Portugal. As you may have guessed from the word telecom, PT is again a telecommunications provider.
Their feature was large and it was made up of red, white and blue. It receives a negative scoring from us, it just appears to take up too much of the shirt.
1996 – 2005 – The Vodaphone Group
Vodaphone is a well-known British multinational telecommunications company. Earning a deal with Vodaphone is not one to be shrugged off, given that they have also partnered with Manchester United previously.
From 1996 until 2000, Telecel appeared on the strips and although the T above the world Telecel was fairly large, it did actually look quite funky (in a good way).
NETC, which appeared in 2000/01, was white, apart from the T which was red, with a blue outline. It also had www.netc.pt underneath it. Out of the three designs used between 1996 and 2005, this is unfortunately the worst.
For the remaining years, it was the well-recognised Vodaphone feature and that probably came as a delight for supporters as it complements the shirts fairly well.
1994 – 1996 – Parmalat
Parmalat is a dairy and food corporation which was founded in 1961. Appearance wise, it is definitely a less is more feature. For that reason, it definitely gets a thumbs up from us.
1992 – 1994 – Casino Estoril
Portugal’s Casino Estoril stands as one of the largest working casinos in Europe. Again, their design is simplistic and there isn’t a great lot to talk about. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing when it comes to brand features on football shirts.
1987 – 1992 – FNAC
FNAC is a French retail chain selling cultural and electronic products. The A within the word FNAC has a star incorporated into it and it really gives it that ‘something’. It is quite a cool feature.
1984 – 1987 – Shell
Oil and gas company, Shell, was the clubs first ever technical sponsor. They certainly didn’t start small, right?
Thankfully, the Shell from their logo didn’t feature and the appearance of the sponsor was a fine introduction to shirt sponsors for Benfica supporters.
With Fly Emirates and Adidas, Benfica have partnered two of the most prestigious brands that delve into the world of football. On Adidas, with a relationship surpassing 30 years in total, it will be a strange day when we next see a Benfica football shirt without an Adidas logo on it. Their next manufacturers will have huge, huge pressure on their shoulders both from those within the club and their followers.