The Portugal national under-23 football team (also known as Portugal Olympic football team) represents Portugal in international football competitions (final stage and qualifiers) in Olympic Games, as well as in under–23 football tournaments. The selection is limited to players under the age of 23, except three over-age players. The team is controlled by the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF). In three participations, Portugal's highest place was fourth, in 1996. This team also competed in the now-defunct Under–23 European Championship. The first time Portugal participated in the Olympic Football Tournament, they fielded main team players since the International Olympic Committee rules allowed to do so back then and in the 1980s, the team was composed of semi-professional players. The team currently qualifies in accordance to their under–21 team position in the UEFA Under–21 Championship. The results below comprise both the under-23 team as well as the Olympic team.
Portugal was invited to enter the 1928 Summer Olympics Football Tournament, which was, at that time, contested by the best national "A" teams in the world and, therefore, considered to be the best international footballing tournament until the FIFA World Cup started, two years later, in 1930.
The Portuguese team was drawn in the preliminary round against Chile for a place in the first round. After falling 2–0 behind, Portugal scored four goals, winning the game 4–2 in what was their first win away from home soil. After their fantastic win against Chile, they faced off Yugoslavia and won 2–1 thanks to a late goal in the 90th minute.
Egypt was the team that followed in the quarter-finals. Here the Portuguese adventure ended after a 2–1 defeat. In the following games, the Egyptians lost against Argentina 6–0 in the semi-final and Italy 11–3 for the bronze medal match, which bittered the players. This was the first tournament the Portuguese team had ever competed.
Portugal was drawn to Group Five, along with Denmark, to play in a two-legged Play-off. After a 1–1 tie in Lisbon, the Portuguese lost the return leg in Aalborg 2–1, ending with a 3–2 aggregate result.
With England and Czechoslovakia in Group One, Portugal ended second with three points (four less than England) coming from a win and a draw against the central Europeans (2–0 in Faro and 1–1 in Teplice). Both games against the English were loses (3–2 in Lisbon and 2–0 in London).
Portugal was to play in Subgroup A of Group Four with Israel and West Germany for a place in the second qualifying round. They finished second behind the Germans (six points) with four points. After an initial win (3–1 in Lisbon), they lost in Osnabrück 3–0, followed by a 1–0 defeat in Tel Aviv and a 2–1 win against the Israelis in Lisbon. The team was made up with semi-professional players.
With strong sides to play with (East Germany, Iceland, Italy, and the Netherlands) the Portuguese qualification was seen has merely a dream. With wins against Iceland (2–1 in Leiria and 1–0 in Reykjavík), two away defeats (1–0 in Lecce, Italy and 3–0 in Aue, East Germany) and all other games tied, they ended up in third place with eight points (five behind group winners and qualifiers Italy). Again, this team was composed with semi-professional players.
Portugal participated in the Atlanta Games and after a win over Tunisia (2–0) and 1–1 draws against Argentina and the United States, they ended in second place in Group A with the same points and goal difference as the first-placed Argentinians (but with lesser goals scored). Then in the quarter-finals, a win over France (2–1) after extra-time assured them a place in the semi-finals. Once again, they played against Argentina, but this time the South Americans won 2–0. For the bronze medal match, they faced a strong Brazil full of world stars such as Bebeto, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo, Rivaldo, among others. Portugal was heavily defeated by a score of 5–0. This participation remains to this day as their best ever ending with the fourth place.
In the 2004 Games, the Portuguese were seen as major contenders for Olympic gold, but they didn't make it past the group stage. This disappointing performance started with a 4–2 defeat at the hands of Iraq. The second game ended in a 2–1 win over Morocco and in the third game, Portugal were once again defeated 4–2 by an inferior team (Costa Rica). The team was accused of wanting out of the tournament due to their respective club's pressure.