Renato Sanches joins Bayern after an astonishing breakthrough campaign for club and country in 2015/16. - © © gettyimages
Renato Sanches joins Bayern after an astonishing breakthrough campaign for club and country in 2015/16. - © © gettyimages

Ten things about Portugal and Bayern starlet Renato Sanches


After making the UEFA EURO 2016 stage his own, Renato Sanches can look forward to playing a starring role at FC Bayern München for years to come.

1) Belated birthday gift takes a closer look at the 18-year-old's back story.

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On the books at SL Benfica since the age of nine, Sanches scored his first professional goal for Benfica B, who play in Portugal's second tier, in August 2015. That particular day was witness to a shock 2-1 defeat to Varzim FC, but Sanches had nonetheless opened the scoring two minutes in, just 13 days past his 18th birthday.

2) Taming of the Bull

"Renato was audacious, he was a pure product of street football," Renato Paiva, one of his former coaches at the Benfica academy, told the Expresso newspaper. "At first he wasn't very obedient. He came from a neighbourhood where there weren't many rules and he struggled to understand that he was now in a world where rules were necessary." No wonder his grandma nicknamed him El Bulo.

3) Long-range debut goal

Putting his raw power to good use, Sanches marked his first home start for Benfica's first team with a goal last December. Leading 2-0 thanks to a pair of Jonas penalties, Sanches netted a 30-metre screamer five minutes from time to become the Eagles' youngest goalscorer at the Estadio da Luz since the turn of the century, aged 18 years, three months and 17 days. "Renato was wonderful," said Benfica coach Rui Vitoria. "It was a great debut. Surely he will not forget this performance."

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4) All the attributes

Although he stands just 1.76m tall, Sanches is a potent cocktail of pace, power and guile. His two goals for Benfica last season demonstrate as much. While his first top-flight goal was a thunderbolt to cap off a fine team move which he had started against Academica, his second was a fine solo strike against Vitoria Guimaraes in January, in which he found the top corner from a tight angle following a corner. "He has a strong shot and good vision for someone in his position," said Diego Simeone before Benfica's clash with Club Atletico de Madrid in December 2015. "It's always nice to see good young players."

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6) Euro stage

The wild card in Portugal's pack of EURO 2016 hopefuls, Sanches made a huge impact as a substitute in the round of 16 extra-time win over Croatia and was duly rewarded with his first start of the finals against Poland. Oozing confidence and bulldozing his way into opposition territory at will, not only did he score the equalising goal to become the youngest scorer in EURO knockout fixture history, he also netted in the ensuing shootout that clinched his country's place in the last four of the competition.

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8) Maturity beyond his years

A record-breaker with he world at his feet, it came as no surprise when Sanches picked up the award for Young Player of the Tournament. "It's amazing for a young player like him to acquit himself as he did at his first major tournament," said Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. "He has extraordinary talents. Bayern would not have been able to afford him had we tried to sign him after the Euros."

10) A portent of great things?

Born on 18 August 1997, Sanches shares his birthday with some luminaries of world football. Frenchman Just Fontaine, now 82, remains the top scorer in a single FIFA World Cup with his haul of 13 in the 1958 competition, while Gianni Rivera is now an Italian politician, but the 72-year-old made over 500 appearances with AC Milan between 1960 and 1979.

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