Benfica announced in a press release that former Portuguese international attacking midfielder Fernando Challana from Benfica Lisbon who also worked with Girondins de Bordeaux, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 63.
“Fernando Challana, +Pequeno Genial + (“little genius”, in Portuguese), passed away on Wednesday, August 10,” the Lisbon club said.
“It is a very sad day for the nation of Benfiquesta and for all the football fans. Gone + genius +, one of the greatest eternal symbols of the club. I will ensure that the memory of Fernando Chalana is always present in every Benfiquesta,” 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.
“There are footballers and a genius, Chalana was a genius,” said Portuguese Culture Minister Pedro Adao e Silva, while President of the Republic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa paid tribute to the memory of the man “who contributed to the international standing of Portuguese football.”
Chalana’s talent came to light during Euro 84 with the Seleção, which he had taken to the semi-finals – a match he lost at the end of the suspense against France (3-2 Ab) in Marseille.
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).
He then retrained as a coach at his favorite club, primarily as an assistant or coach in the youth categories.
“He was one of the best players in Portuguese football,” said Portuguese Football Federation coach Fernando Santos, and announced that a minute of silence would be observed during each match, in honor of Shallana, until next Monday.