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Top 10 Sporting CP academy graduates of all time 

Two of the biggest talents to come out of the Sporting Academy in the  decade
Two of the biggest talents to come out of the Sporting Academy in the last decade

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

A late bloomer
A late bloomer

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.

9. William Carvalho

William Carvalho
William Carvalho

Signed as a 13-year old in 2005, the midfielder spent five years in the academy before making his debut as an 18-year old in 2011.

A versatile defensive midfielder, William Carvalho has at times been deployed as a central midfielder and central defender during his career. he spent six seasons as a Sporting CP player making 190 appearances and scoring 11 goals before ending a 13-year long relationship with Sporting to join Real Betis in 2018.

Now in his prime, William Carvalho is one of the first names in Real Betis and Portugal's team list.


8. Rui Patricio

Arguably Portugal's greatest ever goalkeeper
Arguably Portugal's greatest ever goalkeeper

Arguably Portugal's greatest ever goalkeeper, Rui Patricio was 12 years old when he joined the Sporting CP academy. Patricio was just 18 when he made his debut for the Verde e Brancos in 2006. The shot-stopper went on to spend 12 years with the Portuguese side before moving to England in 2018 to join Wolverhampton Wanderers.

During his stay at the Jose Alvalade Stadium, Patricio made 467 appearances - second in the Sporting CP's all-time appearance makers list - and won domestic honours aplenty bar only the league title.

Rui Patricio is now one of the leading goalkeepers in the Premier League and has been Portugal's No.1 for over 10 years.


7. Ricardo Quaresma

Ricardo Quaresma
Ricardo Quaresma

A name synonymous with the trivela, Ricardo Quaresma was once hailed to be a bigger talent than Cristiano Ronaldo. Signed as an 11-year old, Quaresma spent 6 years in the academy before making debut for the reserves in 2000.

He made his first-team debut as a 17-year old in 2001 and spent two years in the Portuguese capital before securing a dream move to Barcelona at the end of the 2002-03 season. Quaresma made 74 appearances and scored 10 times for his club during his tenure.

A highly temperamental character, Quaresma has seen his temper get the better of him on many occasions. Failed moves to Barcelona and Inter Milan had resulted in the mercurial forward almost falling off the limelight before an inspired performance with Besiktas and later the Portuguese national team brought him back into the spotlight.

Ricardo Quaresma is now in the Turkish Super Lig with Kasimpasa SK.

6. Simao Sabrosa

Simao Sabrosa
Simao Sabrosa

Signed as a 13-year old, Simao Sabrosa rose through the ranks for 5 years before making his debut in 1997. Deployed mainly as a winger, Simao spent two seasons with the Portuguese club before a dream move to Barcelona in 1999. During his two-year stint, he made 58 appearances and scored 12 times.

After failing to impress following the move to the Catalan giants, Simao was back in his homeland joining Benfica, returning two years. In 2007, he left Lisbon again, moving to La Liga side Atletico Madrid.

A largely successful four-year spell with the Rojiblancos was followed by stints with Besiktas and Espanyol before finally hanging his boots in 2015 after making an appearance for Indian Super League side NorthEast United.


5. Joao Moutinho

One of Portugal greatest ever midfielders
One of Portugal greatest ever midfielders

There aren't a whole lot of Portuguese midfielders that come to mind who are more complete than Joao Moutinho. The Portuguese midfielder signed for Sporting FC as a 13-year old and worked his way to the main team and made his debut four years later.

After spending nearly a decade with Sporting and making more than 250 appearances for them, Moutinho made the controversial decision by moving to cross-town rivals FC Porto.

Three seasons with the Dragons was followed by a big-money move to AS Monaco in 2013 that saw the Portuguese midfielder making his first move away from his homeland. After five seasons including an incredible 2016-17 season that saw Monaco ousting PSG for the title, the playmaker moving to England to join Nuno Espirito Santo's Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Joao Moutinho was an integral part of the Portuguese side that won the 2016 European Championship. He is also just the third player in the history of Portuguese football to earn 100 or more international caps.

4. Nani

Nani
Nani

It is safe to say that Nani never fulfilled his great potential despite showing flashes of his genius on many occasions. Perhaps it was not his fault rather a comparison with another Portuguese winger who followed a similar path from Sporting CP to Manchester United and set the bar too high to reach.

Signed at the age of 16, Nani had to spend just two years in the youth academy before making his debut in 2005. Unlike Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani spent two complete seasons with Sporting, making 76 appearances and scoring 11 goals, before joining Manchester United in 2007.

In England, the winger showed glimpses of his true potential but was often cited to be very inconsistent. He spent eight seasons as a Manchester United player winning almost everything possible with the Red Devils and even conjuring up the Player of the Year award in 2011 before returning to Sporting on loan for the 2014-15 season.

A move to Fenerbahce in 2015 was followed by a move to Valencia and a third return to Sporting CP in 2018. Nani would spend just one more season at Lisbon before moving to the MLS to join Orlando City in 2019.


3. Paulo Futre

Atletico Madrid legend
Atletico Madrid legend

One of the all-time greatest players in the history of Portuguese football, Futre joined the Sporting Academy in 1975 at the age of 9. The winger impressed in years to come and made his debut eight years later.

A request for a pay rise denied at the end of his debut season saw Futre making the move to rivals FC Porto in 1984, after making 24 appearances for his boyhood club. Futre went on to represent Atletico Madrid, Benfica, Marseille, Reggiana, AC Milan, West Ham and Yokohama Flugels in a 15-year long professional career.

The winger is one among seven players to have represented the 'big three' of Portuguese football (FC Porto, Sporting CP, and Benfica) during their playing careers. He is also the youngest player in the history of Portuguese football to play for the national side.

2. Luis Figo

One of Portugal's finest ever players
One of Portugal's finest ever players

The leader of Portugal's first golden era and one of the best players of his generation, Luis Figo is one of the two Ballon d'Or winners to have been produced by Sporting CP. Signed at the age of 12, Figo spent five years in the academy before making his debut in 1990.

The winger made 169 appearances, scoring 20 times for the Portuguese side before making a big-money move to Barcelona in 1995. He endured the wrath of the Blaugrana faithful when he made the controversial move to Real Madrid in 2000.

Figo went onto spent five seasons at the Bernabeu before moving to Inter Milan where he hung up his boots in 2009.


1. Cristiano Ronaldo

One of the greatest to have ever played the game
One of the greatest to have ever played the game

Thethe boy from Madeira joined Sporting CP at the age after the club signed him from Nacional for a fee of just £1,500. Almost 23 years later, Cristiano Ronaldo finds himself as one of the highest-paid athletes in the world with many even considering him to be the greatest ever to have played the game.

Ronaldo made his senior debut in the 2002-03 season as a 17-year old. It remains the only season he spent with the Portuguese giants as the following year saw him moving to Manchester United after impressing Sir Alex Ferguson during a friendly against his side. The rest, as they say, is history.

A winger who later converted into a clinical striker and arguably one of the greatest athletes to ever play the sport, Cristiano Ronaldo has won countless number of individual trophies including 5 Ballon d'Ors. He is also one of nine players to have won the Champions League 5 times. Now at the age of 35, he doesn't appear to be showing any signs of slowing down after scoring in his last 10 consecutive matches for Juventus.

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Edited by Sai Teja
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