One cap club: squad of players who have only played for Portugal once
Lucas Joao’s move to Reading got us thinking about some of the other more infamous Portuguese players to have represented the national team.
Joao himself has actually represented Portugal on two occasions - both outings being in friendly fixtures. The first was a substitute appearance against Russia, while the second was an 81 minute showing against Luxembourg.
However, there are several players who can’t lay claim to two international caps, instead being in an elusive club of players who have earned just a single appearance for their country.
Here, we construct a squad of players, from both past and present, to have only represented Portugal on a single occasion:
GK: Claudio Ramos
Current club: Tondela. Date of int’l appearance: 14th October 2018. Score: Portugal 3-1 Scotland. Competition: Friendly. Age: 27.
Claudio Ramos made his one and only appearance for Portugal back in October of last year. That came after he was named in Portugal’s UEFA Nations League squad the month before, though he did not take to the field against either of Italy or Poland.
Instead, he featured for Portugal in a friendly meeting with Scotland, a match which ended 3-1 to Portugal.
His appearance lasted for just 4 minutes though, coming on as a substitue in the 86th minute. He took to the field when the score was 3-0 to Portugal - and despite playing just 4 minutes of football, conceded a goal in his brief outing. Not a great debut for the 27-year old, but a proud day nonetheless, both for him and for Tondela, who saw a player of their team represent Portugal for the first time in their history.
Current club: Alanyaspor. Date of int’l appearance: 28th March 2017. Score: Sweden 3-2 Portugal. Competition: Friendly. Age: 32.
Former Braga goalkeeper Marafona recently signed for Turkish outfit Alanyaspor on a free transfer, the 32-year old not really getting a look-in at Braga last season, behind Tiago Sa in the pecking order.
However, he does boast a full senior international appearance for his country, playing the full 90 minutes of Portugal’s friendly meeting with Sweden. It was a memorable match overall; Portugal took a 2-0 lead in the first half, but a stunning second half comeback, rounded off by Joao Cancelo’s stoppage time own goal, meant Portugal ended up losing 3-2.
Another disappointing debut overall, therefore, but again a moment that Marafona will always remember, given the chance to represent his country.
GK: Bruno Vale
Current club: Oliveirense. Date of int’l appearance: 20th August 2003. Score: Portugal 1-0 Kazakhstan. Competition: Friendly. Age: 36.
Vale’s one appearance for Portugal’s senior team came in 2003 when Luiz Felipe Scolari was manager, making his international debut when he was just 20 years of age. His inclusion in the Portugal squad was somewhat surprising, with Vale nothing more than a backup player at FC Porto at the time.
Indeed, he had yet to represent FC Porto when he was awarded his one and only Portugal cap, becoming one of very few professional footballers who can lay claim to winning a senior cap for their country before actually representing their club at senior level.
His showing came in a friendly match against Kazakhstan, an 8 minute cameo appearance in which he managed to keep a clean sheet and preserve Portugal’s slender 1-0 lead.
CB: Ricardo Ferreira
Current club: Without club. Date of int’l appearance: 14th November 2017. Score: USA 1-1 Portugal. Competition: Friendly. Age: 27.
Ricardo Ferreira’s story is a bit of a sad one. As recently as 2017 deemed one of Portugal’s future international centrebacks, back-to-back long-term injuries have ultimately put his entire footballing career on hold - and the chances of him being able to get back to his previous level after two years of inactivity are slim.
His contract with Braga has since expired, and he has now left the club, his injury problems ensuring that Braga weren’t keen to commit to signing him on a new contract.
His one appearance for Portugal came towards the end of 2017, a friendly outing with USA that finished 1-1.
CB: Daniel Carriço
Current club: Sevilla. Date of int’l appearance: 17th June 2015. Score: Italy 0-1 Portugal. Competition: Friendly. Age: 31.
One of the players on this list that can feel somewhat aggrieved to have only made one appearance for Portugal, Daniel Carrico, who has captained Sevilla on numerous occasions and has regularly shown his defensive abilities, made his one and only appearance for Portugal all the way back in 2015.
Injuries have undoubtedly impacted his career, but it can still be considered somewhat surprising that he has regularly been overlooked by Portugal’s managers. Now 31, you have to wonder if he will ever add to that tally.
His appearance was in a friendly outing against Italy, which finished 1-0 to Portugal.
CB: Paulo Oliveira
Current club: Eibar. Date of int’l appearance: 31st March 2015. Score: Portugal 0-2 Cape Verde. Competition: Friendly. Age: 27.
Another centreback that is currently plying his trade in Spain, Paulo Oliveira also has just one cap to his name, also coming all the way back in 2015.
The 27-year old former Sporting defender still has time on his hands to add to his one cap though, and has become a regular for his La Liga club, but his one showing for Portugal was certainly one to forget, featuring for the full 90 minutes in an embarassing 2-0 home loss to Cape Verde.
CB: Pedro Mendes
Current club: Montpellier. Date of int’l appearance: 14th October 2018. Score: Portugal 3-1 Scotland. Competition: Friendly. Age: 28.
Swiss born Pedro Mendes has represented Portugal at every level from U17 to the senior side, his one appearance for Portugal coming relatively recently, in 2018.
It came in the same match as Claudio Ramos in that 3-1 friendly victory over Scotland, Mendes featuring for 33 minutes.
With Mendes still just 28 years of age and a couple of Portugal’s first-team centrebacks now well into their 30s, there is still time for him to add to his one cap, particularly if he continues to perform for Montpellier.
RB: Edgar Ié
Current club: Trabzonspor. Date of int’l appearance: 11h October 2017. Score: Portugal 3-0 Saudi Arabia. Competition: Friendly. Age: 25.
Ie was once deemed a potential future Portugal international, though he has gone on to make just one appearance for the national team, which came in a friendly showing in 2017 versus Saudi Arabia.
The former Lille defender, who this summer completed a move to Trabzonspor, is still only 25 years of age, though you would be hard-pushed to find someone confident enough to bet on him making another appearance for Portugal.
RB: Toni Conceição
Current club: Retired. Date of int’l appearance: 12th October 1988. Score: Sweden 0-0 Portugal. Competition: Friendly. Age: 57.
The first retired player on the list, Toni Conceicao is now a football manager, having most recently coached Cluj, a side he has managed three times in his managerial career so far.
Having represented Braga and Vizela in his playing career, his debut came in 1988, when he was 37 years of age. Certainly one of the older players to ever earn their first international cap.
His debut came as a result of ‘O Caso Saltillo’, whereby, in the aftermath of the controversies in 1986, several high-profile players were excluded from the national team. That opened up a spot for Conceicao, who made his one appearance for Portugal aged 37.
LB: Tiago Gomes
Current club: Without club. Date of int’l appearance: 18th November 2014. Score: Argentina 0-1 Portugal. Competition: Friendly. Age: 33.
Another active player, Tiago Gomes is currently without a club, his contract with recently relegated Feirense having now expired.
He made his debut for Portugal back in 2014 when he was on the books of FC Braga, playing 51 minutes of Portugal’s 1-0 victory over Argentina at Old Trafford.
LB: Mario Silva
Current club: Retired. Date of int’l appearance: 27th March 2002. Score: Finland 4-1 Portugal. Competition: Friendly. Age: 42.
Moving on to another retired footballer, Mario Silva briefly became a manager, having served as head coach of Boavista in 2011. His tenure only lasted 5 months though before he left the club for financial reasons.
His one appearance for Portugal came in 2002 - and it was a game to forget for fans of the Portugal national team.
It ultimately ended in a crushing 4-1 defeat against Finland, a match which Silva played 45 minutes of, starting the game before being substitued at half time for Nuno Capucho.
CM: Pedro Martins
Current club: Retired. Date of int’l appearance: 29th March 1997. Score: Northern Ireland 0-0 Portugal. Competition: World Cup qualifier. Age: 49.
Another player who has since retired, Pedro Martins is one of the more high-profile ex-players on this list, the former Sporting and Guimaraes midfielder now the manager of Greek giants Olympiakos.
His one cap came in 1997, and he is the first player in this hypothetical squad to have actually appeared in a competitive match, coming on as a second-half substitute versus Northern Ireland in a World Cup qualifier.
Unfortunately, the game finished 0-0, and Portugal failed to qualify for the 32-team tournament.
CM: Marco Paiva
Current club: Retired. Date of int’l appearance: 19th August 1998. Score: Portugal 2-1 Mozambique. Competition: Friendly. Age: 46.
Marco Paiva is yet another ex-player on this list, the 46 year old having made his one and only appearance for his country in 1998.
At that point, he was 25 years old and on the books of Vitoria Guimaraes. He played just 5 minutes in the outing, which Portugal won by two goals to one thanks to a brace from Rui Costa.
CM: Hugo Leal
Current club: Retired. Date of int’l appearance: 19th February 1999. Score: Portugal 0-0 Netherlands. Competition: Friendly. Age: 39.
The final retired player on this list, Hugo Leal made his international debut one year after Paiva in 1999. Having been on the books of Benfica at the time, he had impressed enough to get the call-up, and went on to have a solid career, also representing Atletico Madrid and Paris Saint Germain for a combined 5 years before returning to Portugal.
Indeed, it is easy to see that he peaked early, making his one and only appearance for Portugal aged just 18, making him one of Portugal’s youngest ever debutants.
He never represented Portugal again though, his showing against The Netherlands in a 0-0 draw in Paris the only senior national appearance to his name.
LW: Yannick Djaló
Current club: Without club. Date of int’l appearance: 9th March 2010. Score: Portugal 4-4 Cyprus. Competition: European qualifier. Age: 33.
Yannick Djalo has certainly had quite an intriguing career. Having represented Sporting for 6 years from 2005 to 2011, he was then supposed to join Nice in the summer of 2011 for 6 million euros, but FIFA blocked the move, meaning he was left without a club entirely for four months.
When January 2012 came about, he then decided to join Sporting’s arch-rivals Benfica. That move proved counter-productive though, with Djalo spending most of his time with Benfica out on loan, and has most recently represented Thai club Ratchaburi.
His one appearance for Portugal came in 2010, and he is another of just a few on this list to have made his appearance in a competitive match. It came in a European qualifier, when he was a late substitute in Portugal’s enthralling 4-4 draw with Cyprus.
LW: Helder Costa
Current club: Leeds United. Date of int’l appearance: 14th October 2018. Score: Portugal 3-1 Scotland. Competition: Friendly. Age: 25.
Costa is one of the players with happier memories of his debut for Portugal, his outing against Scotland ultimately resulting in a victory - and a goal of his own.
The former Benfica and Wolves man is now on the books of Leeds United, and he will be hoping to reignite his career after a disappointing campaign with Wolves on their return to the Premier League.
Current club: Belenenses. Date of int’l appearance: 10th September 2013. Score: Brazil 3-1 Portugal. Competition: Friendly. Age: 30.
Lica is a name that some fans of English football may also be aware of, the right winger having briefly plied his trade in the English Championship with Nottingham Forest.
That spell ultimately proved less than productive, with Lica only making 5 Championship appearances in total.
His career is back on track now though, performing to a high standard for Belenenses.
His one cap for Portugal came in 2013, Lica having just joined Porto after an impessive season with Estoril. In total, he played just 6 minutes of a friendly clash with Brazil.
Current club: Santa Clara. Date of int’l appearance: 31st March 2015. Score: Portugal 0-2 Cape Verde. Competition: Friendly. Age: 31.
Ukra’s debut for Portugal has come slightly more recently than Lica’s, appearing for his country in 2015 when Portugal fielded that weakened side against Cape Verde.
It ultimately proved a mistake, with Portugal suffering a humbling 2-0 home defeat at the hands of their opponents.
Ukra was representing Rio Ave at the time, while he is now on the books of Santa Clara.
RW: Ricardo Horta
Current club: Braga. Date of int’l appearance: 9th July 2014. Score: Portugal 0-1 Albania. Competition: Euro qualifier. Age: 24.
One of the few players on this list who could realistically add to that tally of just one senior appearance at international level, the Braga right winger is still only 24 years of age.
The Benfica youth product has been one of Braga’s top performers over the last two years, but his debut came long before he joined Braga, instead being given the chance to represent his country while on the books of Malaga in 2014.
That outing came in what was ultimately Paulo Bento’s last match as manager, when Portugal fell to a shock 1-0 home defeat against Albania. Horta played 34 minutes of the outing and will be hoping for better experiences with Portugal in future.
SS: João Felix
Current club: Atletico Madrid. Date of int’l appearance: 5th June 2019. Score: Portugal 3-2 Switzerland. Competition: Nations League semi-final. Age: 19.
Well, I think it’s safe to say that Felix won’t be in the ‘one-cap club’ for much longer… The Benfica academy product is one of the most highly rated teenagers in world football right now, and his 126 million euro move to Atletico Madrid only emphasises that.
He’s already been impressing in pre-season, and this could actually prove to be excellent business from Atletico, who have tied down the 19-year old on a long-term contract containing a release clause of 350 million euros.
His one appearance for Portugal was somewhat underwhelming, Felix struggling to have a significant impact as he played 70 minutes versus Switzerland in the Nations League semi-final. He didn’t play for Portugal at all in the final against The Netherlands.
ST: Orlando Sá
Current club: Standard Liege. Date of int’l appearance: 11th February 2018. Score: Portugal 1-0 Finland. Competition: Friendly. Age: 31.
The Braga academy product has had an interesting and adventurous career, dispersed across Portugal, England, Cyprus, Poland, Israel, China and now Belgium.
It’s been largely successful though, even if goals in Belgium have been hard to come by. In any case, his debut for Portugal came in 2009, when he was just 20 years of age.
His call-up came as a surprise, Sa still on the books of Braga at the time and lacking senior experience, buthe featured for 30 minutes against Finland in a 1-0 friendly victory. Porto went on to buy him in June.
ST: Gonçalo Paciência
Current club: Eintracht Frankfurt. Date of int’l appearance: 14th November 2017. Score: USA 1-1 Portugal. Competition: Friendly. Age: 25.
After a frustrating time in Portugal, Paciencia certainly seems to be successfully reinventing himself in Germany, beginning to become that much more prolific.
Nevertheless, his debut came while he was still in Portugal at Vitoria Setubal. He only had 2 goals in 11 outings in the season by November 2017, but he was still called up to the squad to play the USA in a friendly, and took to the field for 40 minutes too.
However, he did not find the back of the net.