Fernando Chalana dead at 63: Tributes paid to Portugal legend regarded as one of Benfica's greatest ever players | The Sun

FERNANDO CHALANA has died aged 63, his former club Benfica have confirmed.

The diminutive 5ft 5in winger became a legend with the Portuguese giants across two playing spells between 1974 and 1990.

Chalana went on to coach Benfica, working as assistant manager and twice acting as caretaker manager.

Confirming the sad news of his passing, Benfica wrote: "Fernando Chalana, our Little Genius, passed away at the age of 63 in the early hours of Wednesday, August 10.

"One of the great and eternal names in the Sport Lisboa e Benfica Mystique, he joined the Club at the age of 15 and represented it, first as a player for 13 seasons (1974-1984 and 1987-1990), and then, for many years, as a technical element connected to football.

"Born in Barreiro, on February 10, 1959, Fernando Chalana officially wore the Sacred Mantle for the first time on March 7, 1976, at the age of 17 years and 25 days. Until that date, no one so young had ever played in the Portuguese 1st Division.

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"At this time of mourning, the Sport Lisboa e Benfica flag is at half mast at Estadio da Luz and at the Benfica Campus."

Chalana came through the youth ranks at Benfica, playing for them for a decade before joining French side Bordeaux in 1984.

After three years in Ligue 1 he returned to his beloved Benfica, spending a further three years with the Eagles.

He rounded out his career with spells at Belenenses and Estrela Amadora before hanging up his boots, having earned 27 Portugal caps in the process.

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Chalana won six league titles and three Portuguese Cups with Benfica as a player, as well as two Ligue 1 crowns and a pair of Coupes de France with Bordeaux.

He was affectionately dubbed "Asterix" due to his moustache resembling that of the French cartoon character.

Chalana returned to Benfica as a coach, working as an assistant to numerous managers between 2005 and 2009.

He went on to coach Benfica's junior sides until 2016.

The football legend was struck by health issues in his latter years, suffering from a degenerative disease.

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