Portugal legend Eusébio diesPelé and Eusébio together
The former Benfica and Portugal superstar Eusébio has died aged 71. He was regarded by many as one of the greatest players to have ever played the sport, alongside the likes of Pelé and Maradona. He died last night of a cardiac arrest having suffered several years of heart and respiratory problems.
Eusébio da Silva Ferreira was born in Maputo, Mozambique, then a Portuguese colony, on 25 January 1942. He moved to Lisbon after joining Benfica as an 18-year-old from his local club, Sporting Clube de Lourenco Marques. He made 384 appearances for Benfica, scoring no less than 394 goals. He helped them retain the European Cup in 1962, scoring two goals in the final as the Eagles beat Real Madrid 5-3. He also won 11 league titles, five national cups and two Golden Boot awards as Europe's leading goalscorer during a 15-year spell at the Estádio da Luz.
Known as the ‘Black Panther’ for his athletic prowess and clinical finishing, he played for Portugal between 1961 and 1973, scoring 41 goals in 64 matches. In the 1966 World Cup in England, Eusébio helped Portugal to third place, finishing the tournament as top scorer with nine goals. He scored two goals in Portugal’s 3-1 victory over Brazil but his finest game was in the quarter-final when his four goals inspired a stunning comeback from 3-0 down to beat North Korea 5-3.
Knee injuries forced his retirement at the age of 37, after which he became assistant coach of Benfica and travelled extensively as an ambassador for the Portuguese national side. Off the field, he was known for his unpretentiousness, humility and easy manner.
An example to all throughout his sporting and personal life, he is survived by a wife, two daughters and several grandchildren.