As a player, he notably represented two of the Big Three in his country, Porto and Sporting, amassing totals of 277 games and 87 first division goals between the two and also later managing the former with great success.
Born in Penafiel, Oliveira made his senior debuts with F.C. Porto, first appearing in the top division at the age of 18. From 1974 onwards, with the exception of one year, he always scored in double digits, netting a career-best 19 in the 1977–78 season as the northerners won the national championship after a 19-year drought.
Oliveira started managing while still an active player. Exclusively a coach from 1987 onwards, his only full season in his beginnings was 1991–92, when he led modest Gil Vicente FC to the 13th position in the top flight.
In the summer of 1998 Oliveira was appointed at another former club, Betis, but left the Andalusians before the season started. Two years later he returned to the national team, helping it qualify to the 2002 FIFA World Cup, the first in 16 years.
Several problems occurred during the preparation for the tournament in Japan and South Korea, and the competition itself: Vítor Baía replaced in-form Ricardo in goal, Beto played out of position at right back, Luís Figo was in very poor physical condition and Hugo Viana was called as a last-minute replacement for Daniel Kenedy, who tested positive in a doping control test; after one win and two losses in the group stage, Portugal was eliminated, and the manager was fired.
Afterwards, Oliveira was elected chairman of Penafiel Futebol Clube.