SOCCER students enjoyed a fortnight of a lifetime when they travelled to Portugal for a training camp with football giants, SL Benfica.

The group who are studying on Wigan and Leigh College’s football development programme lerft a lasting impression on Benfica coaching staff, before playing two games against Portuguese teams, both of which ended in a draw.

They then faced a tough test against African team Gabon in Africa featuring prospective Benfica players and slipped to a 3-1 defeat.

Alongside playing experience, the team also took part in daily lectures and enjoyed a tour of the home of the Primeira Liga winners, Estádio da Luz.

Carl Wild, Sports tutor at Wigan & Leigh College said: “We think opportunities like this are vital for our learners to get hands on experience of life as professional footballers and live as they do when involved in competitions such as the upcoming World Cup.

“Benfica are one of Europe’s leading football teams and to be able to train under their staff is an invaluable experience.

“The coaches said the group was ‘the best they had seen in terms of attitude and behaviour both on and off the pitch’. We’re really proud of all their hard work.”

The trip was funded by the EU’s Leonardo da Vinci Programme, designed to encourage work related experience in the field of vocational education and training.