Portugal Travel Guide
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Football is the most popular and played sport. There are several football competitions ranging from local amateur to world-class professional level. The legendary Eusébio is still a major symbol of Portuguese football history. FIFA World Player of the Year winners Luís Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo, are among the numerous examples of other world-class football (soccer) players born in Portugal and noted worldwide.
The Portuguese national teams, have titles in the FIFA World Youth Championship and in the UEFA youth championships. The main national team - Selecção Nacional - finished second in Euro 2004 (held in Portugal), reached the third place in the 1966 FIFA World Cup, and reached the fourth place in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, their best results in major competitions to date.
Sporting C.P., F.C. Porto and S.L. Benfica are the largest sports clubs by popularity and in terms of trophies won, often known as "os três grandes" ("the big three"). They have 12 titles won in the European UEFA club competitions, were present in many finals and have been regular contenders in the last stages almost every season. Other than football, many Portuguese sports clubs, including the "big three", compete in several other sports events with a varying level of success and popularity, these may include basketball, futsal, handball, and volleyball.
Portugal has a successful rink hockey team, with 15 world titles and 20 European titles, making it the country with the most wins in both competitions. The most successful Portuguese rink hockey clubs in the history of European championships are F.C. Porto, S.L. Benfica and Óquei de Barcelos.
The national rugby union team made a dramatic qualification into the 2007 Rugby World Cup and became the first all amateur team to qualify for the World Cup since the dawn of the professional era. The Portuguese national rugby sevens team has performed well, becoming one of the strongest teams in Europe, and proved their status as European champions in several occasions.
In athletics, the Portuguese have won a number of gold, silver and bronze medals in the European, World and Olympic Games competitions. Cycling, with Volta a Portugal being the most important race, is also a popular sports event and include professional cycling teams such as S.L. Benfica, Boavista, Clube de Ciclismo de Tavira, and União Ciclista da Maia. The country has also achieved notable performances in sports like fencing, judo, kitesurf, rowing, sailing, surfing, shooting, triathlon and windsurf, owning several European and world titles. The paralympic athletes have also conquered many medals in sports like swimming, boccia and wrestling.
In motor sport, Portugal is internationally noted for the Rally of Portugal, and both the Estoril and Algarve Circuits.
Northern Portugal has its own original martial art, jogo do pau, in which the fighters use staffs to confront one or several opponents.
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