During his career he played, among others, for Porto and Sporting, amassing Primeira Liga totals of 296 games and 19 goals over the course of 15 seasons. Subsequently, he worked as a manager for several clubs during more than two decades, including Boavista which he led to its only league title.
Pacheco took up coaching while still an active footballer, starting with Paços Ferreira. In early 1994 he left Braga (as a player) and returned to the former in the same capacity. In a similar move, he would again act as player-coach, now at Rio Ave FC, and leave Paredes for Vitória de Guimarães midway through the 1995–96 season, after which he concentrated solely on management (also with the Minho side, he managed a fifth place in the 1996–97 campaign and a third in the following).
Following a poor run of results, Pacheco stood down as coach of Boavista in April 2005. He was then contracted by Vitória Guimarães but resigned in December, after which he again moved to his main club.
Pacheco made his debut for the Portuguese national team on 23 February 1983, in a 1–0 friendly win over West Germany. In the following seven years he won a further 24 caps, without scoring (99% of those games came whilst at Porto and Sporting).