Sporting is mourning the loss of a great in the history of the club. Fernando Mendes, the eternal captain of the team that won the Cup Winners' Cup in 1964, also being part of the "magnificent four", those that won the league for the club both as player and manager. He was 78.
Born in Seia, he arrived in Lisbon with 10 years of age already showing the kind of football skills that promised a great career. He joined Sporting five years later, coming to the beginners team, leaving the rivals Benfica to join his brother who was playing for the junior team of the "green and whites". In spite of his young age he did not take long before he made his debut with the first team, adding his name to the list of winners of the 1957/58 championship, where he played six matches with a team that still counted with the presence of the great forwards Travassos and Vasques.
From 1958 onwards he became an undisputed starter, being a midfielder with refined technical skills but who was mostly famous for his strength, grit, courage and leadership on the pitch, with a character that inspired all those that played and knew him, not only at the "Lions" but also in the National Team. He once again became champion in 1962, two years before the historical green and white campaign in the Cup Winners' Cup (where he played all matches, just like the keeper Carvalho), already wearing the captain's armband which he inherited from the great "Zé da Europa", José Travassos.
He also had a strong presence in the National Team, being at its service that he had one of the hardest moments of his career: while playing a friendly in Bratislava against Czechoslovakia, in April 1965, he suffered a violent tackle that caused a very serious knee injury which would keep him out of the 1966 World Cup - where Sporting was represented by 8 players. Fernando Mendes was also invited to join the squad in England as he was a true part of the famous ‘Magriços’ team. That injury ended up being the cause of the premature end of his career at the early age of 30, after a complex knee surgery which entailed a long process of recovery.
After being a coach in South Africa (with Lusitano) and in the USA (with Boston Astros), he returned to Portugal to manage Lourosa, being the assistant coach of Juca, managed Vianense and returned to Alvalade, first to manage the junior team (U19) and, in November 1979, he took command of the first team after the departure of Rodrigues Dias. That was a moment where he once again showed his undeniable leadership skills and took the "lions" all the way to victory in the 1979/80 championship, with a squad that counted with players like Manuel Fernandes, Jordão, Inácio, Barão or Eurico, amongst others. After leaving the club in the middle of the following season, he managed Marítimo, Belenenses, Farense and Trofense before returning to Sporting, where he had several positions in the Football Department, such as interim coach of the frst team in 1995/96 and 2000/01 and member of the youth football coaching team.