Top 10 Sporting CP academy graduates of all time
- The famed academy has produced two Ballon d'Or winners in the last 30 years.
Sporting CP is one of the oldest and most recognizable clubs in the history of Portuguese football. In the last 30 years, the Lisbon-based club have produced two of the greatest Portuguese players, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Figo, for the national side.
Much of Sporting success in the youth academy must be credited to the legendary scout Aurélio Pereira. The 72-year-old has been at the forefront of the youth department of Sporting CP for over many years and has discovered some of the greatest talents of during the last couple of decades.
Backed by the impressive facilities at the Sporting Academy in Alcochete, and led by Aurelio Pereira, the Portuguese club have one of the premier academies in the world.
10. Jose Fonte
One of the late bloomers football has witnessed, Jose Fonte was practically unheard of before he started gaining attention at St Mary's Stadium. The Penafiel-born defender joined Sporting CP as an 11-year old and spent 8 years in the academy but failed to make a single appearance for the first team.
Despite that, Fonte was a regular in the reserve side that played in the third division where he made his debut in 2002. He made the move to second-tier club Felgueiras in 2004 and moved to Vitoria de Setubal the following year where he finally made his Primeira Liga debut in 2005.
A dream move to Benfica followed the next year but failed to make an appearance for the Portuguese giants. A loan move to Crystal Palace in 2007, which was made permanent later, saw the defender getting his first taste of English football.
The decision to move to the port city of Southampton in 2010 proved to be the turning point in his career as he helped the Saints back to the Premier League. Seven years at St Marys' was followed by a move to West Ham in 2017 and later Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang in 2018. Jose Fonte is now back in Europe playing for Ligue 1 side Lille.
The defender was a starter in Portugal's first European Cup-winning team in 2016.