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Euro 2016 Champions: Sporting CP?

Perhaps Cristiano Ronaldo's early knock in the 2016 Euro final this past Sunday limited the star player's involvement and impact in the match, but the club where it all began for the boy from Madeira had a huge impact on this particular match and Portugal's progression through the tournament overall. On Sunday, ten of the fourteen footballers involved in the match for Portugal went through the youth ranks of Sporting Clube de Portugal; a 110-year-old club from Portugal's capital Lisbon, that has over the decades become famous for their development of Portuguese footballing talent.

The list of past stars developed by the club is very long. Recently it were the likes of Luís Figo, Paulo Futre, Simão and even England and Tottenham star Eric Dier; but who were the footballers that were brought up by the club to go on and play in the Euro final this year?

#1 - Goalkeeper - Rui Patrício

Having joined the academy of Sporting CP at the age of Twelve, Rui Patrício is still an SCP player where he had spent his entire professional career, racking up over 260 appearances for the club.

#21 - Right Back - Cédric

Now playing for Southampton in the Premier League, Cédric began his academy life at SCP at the age of 8.

#4 - Center Back - José Fonte

Another current Southampton footballer, José Fonte never managed to break into Sporting's senior squad after going through the academy between the ages of 14-17 and went on to play with various clubs before signing with Southampton in 2010. The fact that he was first called-up to the Portuguese national team at the age of 30 is also impressive.

#14 - Defensive Midfielder - William Carvalho

William Carvalho began his Sporting career at the age of 13 before signing a professional contract with the club six years later. Carvalho still plays for the Lisbon club.

#23 - Attacking Midfielder - Adrien Silva

Another footballer that still practices his trade at Sporting CP is Adrien Silva who came into the youth fold at the club after playing for French club Bordeaux at an even earlier age. After playing for the academy between the ages of 13-18, Silva signed a pro contract in 2007.

#10 - Left Wing - João Mário

Aside from Porto's academy at the ages of 9-11 and a loan stint at Vitória Setúbal in 2014,winger João Mário has always been and still is a Sporting CP player. Mário joined the youth ranks at the age of 11 after switching from rival club FC Porto.

#17 - Forward - Nani

Most Premier League fans remember the incredible reception Sporting fans gave their star Nani when he rejoined his previous club on loan from Manchester United in 2014. Although Nani spent his first years as a youth player at tiny club Real Massamá, the youngster joined Sporting's academy at the age of 17 and signed a pro contract with the club two years later.

#7 - Forward - Cristiano Ronaldo

I suppose most football fans know the entire story by now; the story of a little boy from Madeira who left for the big city to sign with Lisbon's Sporting Clube at the age of 12, to eventually become one of if not the best footballer in history.

#20 - Forward - Ricardo Quaresma (1st substitute)

Coming on for Cristiano Ronaldo in the 25th minute, Ricardo Quaresma and Ronaldo were in fact at the youth and pro level of Sporting CP around the same time. After leaving for Barcelona however, Quaresma came back to Portugal to play for Sporting's rivals FC Porto.

#8 - Midfielder - João Moutinho (2nd substitute)

Another former Sporting youth product coming on for a player from the same system was João Moutinho who substituted Adrien Silva in the 66th minute of the final in Paris. Moutinho began with Sporting's academy at the age of 14 and after signing a professional contract four years later went on to feature more than 150 times for the club.


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