Fernando Challana, the former Portugal international attacking midfielder from Benfica Lisbon who also worked with Girondins de Bordeaux, died on Wednesday at the age of 63.
Benfica announced that “Fernando Challana, ‘Pequino Genel’ (Little Genius, in Portuguese), passed away on Wednesday, 10 August.”
“It is a very sad day for the nation of Benfiquesta and for all football fans. The ‘Genie’, one of the club’s greatest eternal symbols, is gone. I will make sure that the memory of Fernando Chalana is always present in all Benfiquestas,” Benfica president Rui Costa told BenficaTV.
Chalana joined Lisbon at the age of 15, in 1974, and on March 7, 1976, at 17 years and 25 days old, became the youngest player in history to play in the Portuguese First Division, according to Benfica.
His talent was shown during the Euro-84 tournament with the Seleção, which he had taken to the semi-finals – a match he lost at the end of the suspense period against France (3-2) in Marseille.
In Bordeaux, frequent injuries
Shallana later joined Bordeaux, then at the top of French football, but his three seasons with Girondins were marked by frequent injuries, until his return to Benfica in 1987.
The Portuguese international with the famous mustache finished his career with two short stints at Belenenses (1990-1991) and Amadora (1991-1992).
Then he switched to coaching at his favorite club, mainly as an assistant or coach in the youth categories.