The inauguration of the Stadium in 2003
The 6th of August 2003 witnessed the dawning of a new era for Sporting Clube de Portugal, with the inauguration of the new Estádio José Alvalade. However, the journey that would result in the opening of such a magnificent stadium had begun long before: on the 16th of January 2001. It was on this date that Sporting and Alves Redol, the main contractor (as defined by public tender), began the construction of the new home of Sporting, along with the construction of the Academy and the new Viscount of Alvalade building. These projects would form the basis for the building of the next generation of Sporting Clube de Portugal.
As work progressed, the anticipation of the nation grew stronger. Everybody, Sporting fan and non-Sporting fan alike, was gripped by curiosity as the project developed. As the date of inauguration neared anticipation amongst the Sporting faithful grew further, as the sheer scale of modernity and of the conviction of ideas became clearer.
The initial preparations
The preparations for the opening ceremony were well underway before the actual day of inauguration, as Sporting tested the new sound and lighting systems of the new Estádio José Alvalade on the 22nd of July 2003. With the stands and pitch already installed, all that was missing was a ball, the players and a stadium packed full of the Sporting faithful. New and old players alike excitedly awaited the first game to be played on the new pitch as everybody involved became completely immersed in the sheer scale and beauty of the new Stadium. The patience of all involved would be rewarded with an opening game against Manchester United in a night that was packed full of surprises.
(3-1) - Sporting cuts Manchester down to size
The "captain" Pedro Barbosa was the first player to step foot upon the new pitch as Silva got the game underway as the noise of referee Duarte Gomes's whistle sounded for the first time.
Twenty five minutes into the game, at around 10pm, Luís Filipe scored what would be the first goal in the glorious life of the new stadium as he latched onto the end of a Rui Jorge pass to beat the stranded Fabien Barthez.
Manchester did little to stand in the way of Sporting on a night that marked the dawn of a new chapter in the history of the Club. João Pinto was one of the many heroes on that night: scoring 2 goals for Sporting (on the 61st and 80th minute). With a little help from Hugo, Manchester would go on to score what would be little more than a consolation goal in the 87th minute.
The first team of the new stadium
With Fernando Santos at the helm, Sporting fielded a team comprised of Ricardo, Miguel Garcia, Beto, Hugo, Rui Jorge, Custódio, Rochemback, Luís Filipe, João Pinto, Cristiano Ronaldo and Silva. Featured also were: Lourenço, Paulo Bento, Polga, Toñito and Mário Sérgio. Also featuring as part of the Sporting squad was: Tiago, Nélson, Quiroga, Rui Bento, Pedro Barbosa, Niculae, Sá Pinto, Paíto and Clayton.
Estádio José Alvalade - Five Stars
In May 2005, the UEFA President Lennart Johansson visited Lisbon to certify Estádio José Alvalade as a "Five Star" stadium; attributing the Club as one with a stadium of excellent condition that is fit to host any European game. The plate given to the Club on that day by UEFA is situated in Hall VIP in the west of the Stadium.