Madalena HeinekenHeineken

The Real Hardcore Fan Club: Cheers to Madalena, the Benfica supporter who races across Lisbon to beat the club's eagle!

In 2024 Heineken are on a mission to redefine what it means to be a real hardcore football fan, shining a light on the many diverse faces that make up modern fandom and celebrating the inclusivity and the different ways they express their devotion to the sport and team they live.

The fourth installment of our unique series sees us meet Madalena, a Lisbon local who bleeds Benfica red for both the men and women’s teams. A fan since the day she was born, Madalena is both a classic and contemporary example of real football fandom, with her own very special match day ritual - a race across the city to beat the Benfica eagle.

Cheers to Madalena.

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Madalena HeinekenHeineken

As Rui Costa made his way around the Estadio Da Luz for his final lap of honor, Madalena remembers seeing the tears rolling down the faces of her father and sister. She remembers crying too… not because she would miss Rui Costa that much, but because it was this moment that she realised she belonged to Benfica and that she was part of a community for the rest of her life.

Madalena’s connection to Benfica is deeply tied to her relationship with her father who has been a fan of the club since he was a young boy. Decades later he would have to leave his beloved Lisbon for work overseas and with it his two daughters and their mother.

As Madalena describes it… when she and her sister were born, they were born Benfica fans, and when their father left for Angola in 2008, it was his dream that they would continue the traditions that he had started and later become the ‘member number one’ of Benfica.

Madalena HeinekenHeineken

In Portugal the feeling of Saudade is defined as an emotional state of melancholic or profoundly nostalgic longing for a beloved yet absent something or someone. After her father left, Madalena from the get go, started her own such journey with Benfica, traveling to games both home and away by herself, but keeping her family's match-day rituals close to her.

Madalena is now 25, a promising young fashion designer who has just returned home after a year studying in Milan. She’s happy to be back. Not only because the men’s team are flying and odds-on favourites to win the league, securing a spot in next year’s UEFA Champions League, but also because the women’s team are still in the UEFA Women’s Champions League and she has an amazing quarter final match against Lyon to look forward to.

It’s European nights like this that Madalena looks forward to the most… she gets to wear her father’s treasured Rui Costa shirt and she gets to enjoy a Bifana from her favourite cafe. Not all of her match-day rituals are quite as relaxing however… as every time Benfica play at home an eagle (the symbol of the club), is released and flies across the stadium - and Madalena has to be in her seat before this happens.

Madalena HeinekenHeineken

“If I’m not there before the game to see the eagle, I feel I can’t relax. It’s a way for me to take in the stadium & connect with other fans."

Five years ago, Madalena could never have seen herself meeting up with her friends to watch Benfica in the UEFA Women’s Champions League… but now, as they arrive to take in the flight of the eagle, you can see a new generation of football fans, each with their own unique rituals and traditions, each building the momentum behind this blossoming Benfica team.

Madalena HeinekenHeineken

Football is about a sense of belonging, but also about finding your place, and feeling comfortable in that. Through Benfica, Madalena stays connected to her sense of family, her devotion to the club throughout her life, whether it be living abroad or back home, is integral to who she is as a person. When the eagle flies over The Estádio da Luz pre-game, it gives the sense of belonging to a community that Madalena wouldn’t find herself with her fashion and design work.

Check out more stories of hardcore football fandom with Heineken via the Hardcore Fan Club Hub.