One of Portugal's big three, along with Benfica and Sporting Lisbon, Porto are always there or thereabouts when the domestic medals are handed out and although they have never managed to repeat their 1987 European Cup win, the more recent teams are not far off that side's standards.
Although Porto won both the inaugural Portuguese Cup in 1922 and the first national championship in 1935, the Dragons lived for decades in the shadow of the Lisbon giants. The sixties and early seventies were a particularly lean time. Even after moving into their new stadium at das Antas, Porto were on the brink of bankruptcy and in 1965 had to virtually beg Benfica to sign their best players in order to boost revenue.
Such rivalry mirrored the state of Portuguese society. The political regime that governed the country up until the April Revolution of 1974 also cared little for working-class Porto, preferring instead to concentrate resources on the more affluent Lisbon.
Things gradually changed on the football front under the determined presidency of Pinto da Costa. He practically declared war on the south and Benfica in particular. Porto improved further when former player Jose Maria Pedroto became manager in the late 70s – a time when they could begin to challenge the very best again. What they achieved exceeded their wildest dreams as Porto improved year after year. By 1987 Porto were European Champions and added the Super Cup and World Club Championship to a haul of three Portuguese titles in four years.The nineties were just as successful. From 1989 to 2001 the Dragons won the championship eight times and finished runners-up four times, while they won the Portuguese Cup seven times.
The corrupt days when the Porto director Anibal Abreu had to ask the Benfica for favours are long gone. Back in 1965, Porto were bankrupt and forced to sell their star players, but the Da Costa revolution changed the club's destiny, and turned them into one of the most famous names in Europe. Qualifying for the quarter-finals of the 2000 Champions' League proved they could still compete at the highest level in Europe. Porto have qualified for the elite competition more times than any other club in the first decade of a tournament that began in 1992.