A brief history/overview of Grupo Desportivo de Chaves

The scenic and mountainous Tras-os-Montes The region of north-eastern Portugal, as its name suggests, reflected in Beyond the Mountains, feels cut off from the rest of the country.

This is where Portugal’s northernmost top team, Grupo Desportivo de Chaves, is based.

The town of Chaves nestles in the hills a few kilometers from the border with Spain. Unlike so many other places in Portugal, when one of the Big Three of Benfica, Porto or Sporting rolls into town, the accompanying fans are no more numerous than the local fans who are very proud of their football team. About half of the city’s 20,000 residents regularly fill the nicknamed Estadio Municipal Engenheiro Manuel Branco Teixeira to capacity.

Founded in 1949, Chaves enjoyed its most successful period from the mid-1980s to the ’90s when it was a mainstay in the Primeira Liga, even making it to Europe in 1987/88 when it beat Romanian in the first round of UEFA Club Universitatea Craiova defeated Cup before falling to Honved’s Hungarians.

The new millennium signaled a turning point. A downturn plunged Chaves into the semi-professional leagues and came close to bankruptcy in 2011 before a fortunate series of events reversed the club’s downward trajectory. Local businessman Francisco Carvalho won the Euromillion lottery and then stepped in to save the day by making his son Bruno Carvalho President (not to be confused with former Sporting President Bruno de Carvalho).

The family energetically focused on a number of initiatives to recapture the local fan base: improving stadium facilities, promoting shirt sales, holding open training sessions and even organizing masses in the parish church to honor the club’s late founders, directors and members . Whether through divine intervention or through sheer hard work, things soon improved.

The club worked their way back up the Portuguese football pyramid and after a 17-year hiatus outside the Portuguese top flight, GD de Chaves won promotion back to the big time in 2016/17, falling back to sixth place in their second season . before suffering relegation in the following campaign. In 2021/22, Chaves recovered and is currently making his 17th appearance in the Portuguese top flight.

For a totally different experience from football in Portugal’s big cities or more populated areas, without losing the passion with which the sport is embraced by the fans, a trip to Chaves is highly recommended.

Data sheet: Grupo Desportivo de Chaves

Where is Chaves? Chaves is located 10km south of Portugal’s northern border with Spain in the Vila Real district. It is about 150 km northeast of Porto. The nearest international airport is Porto Airport (Aeroporto Francisco Sá Carneiro)

How to get there: Buses from Porto run regularly. Renting a car is a good option if you have time to explore northern Portugal.

Stadion: Estádio Engenheiro Manuel Branco Teixeira (capacity: 8,000)

Founded: 1949

Awards/Highest Placement: 5th place in the top flight (1986/87 & 1989/90)

Nicknames: Flavienses / Valentes / Trasmontanos

Curiosity: Cristiano Ronaldo made his debut for Portugal at this stadium in a friendly against Kazakhstan on 08/20/2003

by Tom Kundert

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