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Any 100th birthday is a momentous occasion and worthy of suitable celebration. Unfortunately, in West Ham United’s case the memorable event turned out to be a bit of a damp squib. To celebrate the 100 years since the formation of the club in 1895 the Hammers had plans for special events in their centenary year but not all came to fruition.


The centenary event planning experienced mixed fortunes: one took place while the other didn’t get off the drawing board. The one that did happen was the ground breaking visit to Australia at the end of 1994-95 season, which will be the subject of another special feature. The second celebratory event was a three international team tournament scheduled for August 1995. Despite good intentions, suitable opposition could not be found and the tournament’s plans had to be scrapped and replaced by a one-off Upton Park friendly.  


Sporting Lisbon turned out to be the opposition for this birthday event. Though they were not necessarily first choice opponents.



Sporting Lisbon Connection

Centenary Match ...

by Roger Hillier

SC Portugal

Sporting Lisbon Fill Centenary Match Breach

West Ham United 1 - 4 Sporting Portugal (HT 1-2)

Upton Park

Tuesday May 7, 1996

West Ham United:

Julian Dicks (42 mins)


Sporting Lisbon

Quattara (18 mins, 35mins), Alves (62 mins), Iordanov (79 mins)


Attendance: 4,361

Centenary Match

West Ham United:

Miklosko (Mautone 46), Breacker, Dicks, Martin, Bilic (Hughes 64), Potts, Boli, Williamson (Hodges 72), Lampard (Omoyimni 46), Dowie (Cottee 46).



Sporting Lisbon: 

Vasco, Nelson, Vidigal, Beto, Peixe, Nuno Valente (Afonso Martins 87), Dominguez (Alves 46), Pedro Martins (Pedrosa 71), Iordanov, Carlos Xavier (Filipe 71), Quattara (Porfirio 44).

Low Attendance

For a friendly to mark West Ham’s 100 year existence it could not have achieved pre-match expectations and for the fans it would not be remembered for the best reasons. Not only outclassed on the pitch, the attendance was the lowest the club has attracted for a home friendly against overseas opponents.


Eight days earlier West Ham’s youth side attracted nearly four times the crowd when they faced Liverpool’s under 18s in the first leg of the FA Youth Cup final. From the 1950s through to the 1970s when West Ham regularly played foreign club sides, the attendances would typically be 20,000 plus. To only attract 4,361 would have been a commercial disappointment.

Match Programme

The closure on Dani’s time in east London was perhaps anticipated as the match programme had him listed in the Sporting Lisbon squad despite this being his very last appearance in a claret and blue shirt. Talking of the programme’s team listings, in the Hammers’ squad was another loan signing, one of English football’s greatest ever goalkeepers, Peter Shilton.  

The former international shot-stoppper was signed as short term cover for Ludo Miklosko towards the end of 1995-96 season. Despite donning a Hammers’ shirt for a testimonial friendly and making ten outings for the reserves, Shilts did not make a competitive first team appearance during his short stay.

Triple Loanees from Sporting Lisbon

Dani Da Cruz Carvalho

(January 1996 – May 1996)

The first Sporting Lisbon player to move to east London was Dani Carvalho. A precocious talent he joined the Hammers on loan in January 1996 for the remainder of the 1995-96 season. Transferring to the Hammers was not his first trip to London. In the drawn December 1995 Wembley friendly between England and Portugal, Dani had made his full international debut when he came on as a substitute.


On his day he proved to be a very gifted teenager but his lack of total commitment tested Harry Redknapp’s patience. After making nine Premiership appearances and scoring two goals he was released by the Hammers. Many fans will recall his first start for the Hammers when he scored the game’s only goal to beat Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Monday February 12, 1996. Of his nine appearances three were as starts and the rest as substitute.


Hugo Porfirio

(September 1996 – May 1997)

Of the trio of loanees, Porfirio probably enjoyed the most successful spell with the Hammers. In his nine month tenure he clocked 27 first team appearances as a forward notching four goals. Eighteen of his games were starts and included two in the League Cup and another in the FA Cup.  

His most memorable spell would have been scoring in consecutive games in October 1996 in the home victories over Nottingham Forest in the League Cup (4-1) and three days later against Blackburn Rovers (2-1).

Paulo Alves

(November 1997 – January 1998)

In the season after Porfirio left, Paulo Alves, a Portuguese international, became the third and last to sign. Alves did not start a game but made four substitute appearances. His claret and blue debut was in the 2-1 home win over Aston Villa on November 29, 1997.

He must have done something right, as West Ham won three of the four games. Prior to his first appearance at Upton Park in the Centenary Match friendly, Alves had played in and scored Portugal’s goal in the December 1995 1-1 draw with England at Wembley.    

Articles Equal Unbeaten Run Victor Ludorum

August 2013 Guadiana Tournament

Seventeen years later West Ham United had a chance to exact revenge on their 1996 tormentors. As participants in the triangular Guadiana Tournament they opposed Portuguese Primeira Division sides Sporting Lisbon and SC Braga in the town of Portimao on the southern tip of Portugal.


On August 5, 2013 the Hammers turned the tables with a 3-2 victory over the green and white hoops. A brace from Ravel Morrison and another from captain Kevin Nolan secured the win. Though 24 hours later the Hammers suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of SC Braga.



The West Ham team which faced Sporting Lisbon was:


Jaaskelainen, O’Brien, Taylor (Rat), Tomkins (Ruddock), Reid, Noble, Morrison, Nolan, Cole, Jarvis, Maiga (Lee).


WHU v. Sporting Lisbon WHU v. Sporting Lisbon TS CARVALHO Dani Da Cruz PORFIRIO Hugo ALVES Paulo

Newspaper coverage courtesy of Richard Miller and Hammers News

Fourth Portuguese Connection

Paulo Futre

(July 1996 – January 1997)

FUTRE Paulo Sporting Lisbon match action 02 Sporting Lisbon match action 01 Sporting Lisbon match action 03

Alvin Martin in his last-ever West Ham appearance heads an effort at goal late in the game

SC Portugal SC Portugal

The Lisbon side proved to be a class above the Hammers as they comfortably won the friendly by three clear goals. Harry Redknapp’s post match quote summed up the Portuguese performance: “They were bright and pacy, and technically excellent.  I enjoyed watching them.”


To be fair to the Hammers, they fielded an experimental side which included three of the season’s FA Youth Cup final team and a trialist, Frenchman Roger Boli.  

The three youth team players were Frank Lampard Jnr, and second half substitutes Manny Omoyimni and Lee Hodges. Of the three only Lampard had made a Premiership appearance and that as a substitute. As for Roger Boli, Harry Redknapp wasn’t persuaded to sign him and he later played a handful of league games for Walsall, Dundee United and AFC Bournemouth. As Manny Omoyimni and Lee Hodges made their first team debuts, at the other end of the spectrum, veteran central defender Alvin Martin, was wearing the claret and blue shirt for the last time in his illustrious career.


According to a match report in Hammer News two of the Sporting Lisbon goals were down to a double blunder by Ludo Miklosko which helped Sporting Lisbon gain a two goal lead.

Sporting Lisbon match action 04

Pre-match pleasantries

Sporting Lisbon match action 05

Take that

A brief description of the goals:


Sporting 1st goal 18 mins: 

Miklosko missed Valente’s cross to allow Quattara to bundle home.


Sporting 2nd goal 35 mins:

Miklosko sprinted out and missed Xavier’s hopeful upfield punt which allowed Quattara to slot home into an empty net for his second of the evening.


West Ham goal 42 mins:

Julian Dicks hit an unstoppable 30-yarder that tore into the Lisbon net just before half-time.


Sporting 3rd goal 62 mins:  

Lisbon’s third goal was created and scored by two substitutes who would later play for West Ham. Paulo Alves lashed home a low cross from fellow sub Hugo Porfirio.


Sporting 4th goal 79 mins:  

Iordanov ran forward to hit a memorable 25 yarder that scorched the underside of the bar

SC Portugal

A fourth claret and blue player with a Sporting Lisbon connection was the one time superstar, Paulo Futre. Signed on a free transfer from AC Milan in the summer of 1996, Futre’s career started with Sporting Lisbon in 1983-84 before he made a tour of 10 clubs.  


Manager Harry Redknapp snapped him up when he was 30 and with the best years behind him. His notable achievement was as a member of the Porto team which won the European Cup in 1987. Of his time at West Ham he made a paltry nine appearances in 1996-97 five of which were as substitute.


He is probably best remembered for a game he didn’t play in, the season’s opening Premier League fixture away to Arsenal. The Portuguese star got shirty at Highbury where he stormed out of the stadium after being given the number 16 shirt and a place on the bench instead of his favoured number 10 shirt.


Futre prised the number 10 shirt off John Moncur's back after offering Monc's a free holiday in his luxurious villa.

Centenary Tournament – August 1995

West Ham had hoped to attract a couple of top European club sides to appear in an Upton Park Centenary tournament. Ajax Amsterdam and FC Porto were both approached but for reasons unknown they were unable to commit to an August tournament. The Club then investigated a possible mid-season date and Bobby Robson, manager of FC Porto, was contacted to confirm FC Porto’s availability.

The Hammers' plans were scuppered and the tournament didn't take place, probably due to the Dutch and Portuguese sides either having other commitments or the commercials could not be agreed. Perhaps a mid-season tournament proved to be too much of a challenge to arrange in the middle of a congested domestic and European club season.  

Sao Paulo?

As the tournament couldn’t be arranged, Plan B was to host a one-off friendly against international opposition. The West Ham Board approached Brazilian club, Sao Paulo, but they were quoted as requesting a $100,000 appearance fee. Again, either a suitable date or the commercials couldn’t be agreed and so no-show from the Brazilians.

SC Portugal

With West Ham seeking prestigious opposition for their Centenary Match, Sporting Clube de Portugal (Sporting Lisbon) in some ways fitted the bill. After all they were the Portuguese cup holders and finalists, and regularly played European football. So Sporting Lisbon filled the breach left by what should have been a three team tournament, and the non-appearance of the Brazilians. The friendly against the green and white hooped team was played two days after the 1995-96 Premiership season had ended.


The link between the two clubs was established when West Ham signed Sporting Lisbon’s Dani da Cruz Carvalho on loan in January 1996. The signing of Dani was one of manager Harry Redknapps’ many excursions into foreign transfer activity. The loan signing also included an agreement for the two clubs to meet in an end of season friendly at Upton Park. This friendly was billed as West Ham United’s Centenary Match.  


The Dani loan deal and the May 1996 friendly paved the way for the Sporting Lisbon link to be extended into the following two seasons when two more Lions' players swapped peri-peri chicken for pie n' mash and followed Dani with short term moves to east London.


Hugo Porfirio and Paulo Alves, had both appeared as Sporting Lisbon substitutes in the Centenary Match, would later join the Hammers as loanees in seasons 1996-97 and 1997-98 respectively. So the late 1990s West Ham United / Sporting Lisbon Connection stretched to three seasons.


Seventeen years after the Centenary Match, the Hammers met Sporting Lisbon for a second time. Only this time on Portuguese soil.