Long before legendary Brazilian Pelé starting breaking all kinds of goal-scoring records with Santos and the Brazilian national team, there was another man who shared the same language that should go down in history as one of the game’s greatest finishers.
When asked to name football’s most prolific goal scorers, most would go with the obvious names of Pelé, Romário and Ferenc Puskás but few would pip for Portuguese striker Fernando Peyroteo.
His name in itself is impressive enough, but his record more so after scoring an average of 1.61 goals-per-game during his time with Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon during the 1930’s and 40’s.
Fernando Baptista de Seixas Peyroteo de Vasconcelos was born in Portuguese Angola on 10th March 1918 and became one of the most prolific strikers the world has seen after joining Sporting Lisbon from Sporting de Luanda in 1937.
After Peyroteo scored twice on his debut against Benfica in a 5-3 win for their city rivals, he went on to score an incredible 50 goals in only 30 games in his first season in Portugal. Sporting finished the then experimental league in third place just a point behind champions Benfica and second placed Porto.
Sporting were able to get some revenge and win some silverware during that season as they lifted the Portuguese Cup after a 3-1 over Benfica in the final. Although Peyroteo failed to score in the game, it was the player’s first of many trophies during his stay with the Lions.
The next silverware for Peyroteo and Sporting didn’t materialize until the 1940–41 season when the team did the double after breaking the dominance of Benfica and Porto who had won the first six editions of the league competition between them.
Sporting won the league by three points in a season where they plundered 58 goals in a 14 game season. Peyroteo scored 29 of those goals to become the Portuguese league’s top scorer for the third time in four seasons.
Sporting were so dominant that season they also won the Portuguese Cup after a 4-1 win over Belenenses in a competition in which they scored for fun.
The route to the final saw some incredible results; Sporting overcame Seixal 7-2 on aggregate in the first round, Vitória de Guimarães 16-2 in the quarter-finals and Unidos de Lisboa 11-2 in the semi-finals before defeating Belenenses in the final to cap a remarkable cup run.
For the next two seasons, Sporting would finish second behind Benfica and had to wait until the 1943–44 season before switching places. It was the beginning of a hugely successful period for the Green and Whites who would go on to win the league or cup for six consecutive seasons.
This successful period was largely down to the mythical Sporting side that was made up of the Cinco Violinos (Five Violins) who played together between 1946 and 1949. The Five Violins was a five man attacking line consisting of Jesus Correia, Manuel Vasques, Fernando Peyroteo, Jose Travassos and Albano Pereira.
During the 1946-47 season, Sporting achieved the historic feat of scoring 123 goals in a 26 game season, an average of 4.7 goals-per-game to clinch the league with ease. Peyroteo again became the league’s top scorer with 43 goals in 19 games, setting a new record which would last until 1974.
The other four of the Five Violins were also heavily among the goals during the season with Jesus Correia bagging 41 in all competitions, Vasques (12), Travassos (18) and Albano (18). Peyroteo ended the season with 47 in 23 games, an incredible return of 2.04 goals-per-game.
Sporting went on to win the double in the next season and again claiming the league championship in 1948–49 – their third in a row, with the striker picking up 39 league goals in the process. Shortly after the triumph, Peyroteo announced his surprise retirement from the game at 31 years of age and returned to his native Angola.
Even without their Angolan goal machine, Sporting’s domestic dominance continued with the team winning the league in the 1951–52, 1952–53 and 1953–54 seasons.
During his time with the Lions, Peyroteo scored 539 goals in just 334 official games, winning a total of 11 trophies. Of those goals, he managed to score nine in a single game against Leça F.C. in a 14-0 win in 1942 and eight against Boavista in 1948 – records that still stand today.
As well as his incredible scoring from for Sporting, the striker grabbed 14 goals in 20 games for the Portuguese national team in what was a relatively short international career due to the World War II.
After a brief stint as Portugal manager in the 1961-62 season when he gave Eusébio his national team debut in a disastrous defeat against Luxembourg, Peyroteo was relieved of his position and never returned to the game in a professional context.
Sadly, the former Sporting goal scorer passed away in 1978 at the age of just 60 years old but will forever be remembered as one of the eternal heroes in the green and white half of Lisbon.