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On this day: Benfica appoint Graeme Souness

Eighteen years ago today, former Liverpool midfielder Graeme Souness was appointed the new manager of Portuguese club Benfica.

During the late 1990s, there was somewhat of a British invasion on Benfica.

Scott Minto, Brian Deane, Michael Thomas, Dean Saunders, Mark Pembridge, Steve Harkness and Gary Charles all arrived in Lisbon, thanks largely to the man that was placed in charge of the team 18 years ago today.

One of Dr Joao Vale e Azevedo's key promises during his electoral campaign was that he would secure the services of a manager that he believed would return the good times to the ailing club. It turned out that the boss in question was Graeme Souness, who had recently left Serie B side Torino after only four months at the helm.

Prior to the Scot's arrival, Benfica had embarked on a five-game winless streak and also exited the UEFA Cup at the first-round stage at the hands of French side Bastia.

However, upon his appointment, Souness was in defiant mood when he said: "My aim is to play soccer the fans enjoy. We're only eight weeks into the season and Benfica still have a chance of the title."

Almost immediately the club's debts started to spiral out of control, but to Souness's credit, on the pitch he was able to guide the team to a second-placed finish and Champions League qualification, which sparked the start of his British spree.

Minto was already at the club when Souness joined up, with striker Deane arriving in early 1998. The rest of the contingent arrived after that, but it's hard to suggest that any of them were a success in the Portuguese capital as the wheels started to fall off the Souness machine.

The team were booted out of the Champions League in the group stages following a harrowing defeat to minnows HJK Helsinki, while a number of players - including a young Nuno Gomes - were critical of Souness's tactics. The fact that he also loaned out Deco, rather than play him, did not help the former Liverpool midfielder's cause.

Results and performances were so negative as the 1998-99 season wore on that supporters would frequently jeer Souness and his players, particularly those that he had signed.

The situation came to a head in April 1999 when Souness was first informed that he would be replaced in the summer by Jupp Heynckes, then placed on gardening leave before he was finally locked out of the training ground by the president. Unsurprisingly, soon after Souness departed, so did most of the British players that he had recruited.

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Monday's key events


ATHLETICS
· There are no Brits in the women's 100m hurdles final, but Puerto Rico's Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, fresh from breaking the Olympic record in the semis, will hope to pip world record holder Kendra Harrison to gold (3.50am)
· The women's 5000m final also has no Team GB representation, but two-time world champion Hellen Obiri of Kenya will be looking to add an Olympic gold to her list of honours (1.40pm)

SAILING
· The women's skiff 49er FX (6.33am) and men's skiff 49er (7.33am) come to their conclusion, with Team GB involved in both medal races

FOOTBALL
· A place in the women's gold medal match is up for grabs, starting with an all-North American semi-final between United States and Canada (9am)
· Australia, who edged past Team GB's in a seven-goal quarter-final thriller, take on Sweden in the second semi-final (12pm)

CYCLING
· The track cycling schedule gets underway, with Team GB holding a particular interest in the team pursuit qualifying. Laura Kenny is part of the women's team (7.54am), while the men's team includes Ed Clancy (9.02am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· The Gadirova twins Jessica and Jennifer will both take part in the women's floor final as they look to add to their team bronze (9.57am)

WEIGHTLIFTING
· Newly-crowned European champion Emily Campbell flies the flag for Great Britain in the women's +87kg, but faces stiff competition for medals from China's Li Wenwen and New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard (11.50am)

HOCKEY
· The women's hockey quarter-finals begin, with Team GB last up against Spain (1pm)

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