Football loses a legend

Portugal hero Eusebio – one of the true greats of the game – dies at the age of 71

Portuguese football legend Eusebio has died at the age of 71.

The forward scored an incredible 473 goals in 440 matches for Benfica, the Portuguese giants with whom he spent most of his career and won the European Cup in 1962.

He also scored 41 goals in 64 appearances for the Portugal national team, helping them to third place in the 1966 World Cup in England – a tournament in which he was top goalscorer with nine goals.

He memorably scored four goals in the 5-3 quarter-final win over North Korea at Goodison Park.

Legend: Eusebio has passed away at the age of 71
Legend: Eusebio has passed away at the age of 71

 

Thumbs up: Eusebio after arriving with the Benfica team for the European Cup final with Manchester United at Wembley in 1968
Thumbs up: Eusebio after arriving with the Benfica team for the European Cup final with Manchester United at Wembley in 1968

Memorable tournament: Eusebio scores one of his four goals against North Korea in the 1966 World Cup quarter-final at Goodison Park
Memorable tournament: Eusebio scores one of his four goals against North Korea in the 1966 World Cup quarter-final at Goodison Park
Display: Eusebio's coffin arrives at Benfica's Luz Stadium to be displayed in a chapel of rest on Sunday evening
Display: Eusebio’s coffin arrives at Benfica’s Luz Stadium to be displayed in a chapel of rest on Sunday evening

 

Tribute: Fans flock to Benfica's stadium to pay tribute to the Portugal legend who died on Sunday
Tribute: Fans flock to Benfica’s stadium to pay tribute to the Portugal legend who died on Sunday

 

A spokesman for Benfica said: ‘We have just received confirmation of the death of Eusebio. It’s a very sad day for all of us.’

The club were unable to confirm details of Eusebio’s death but reports in Portugal say he died of a cardiac arrest in the early hours of Sunday morning.

He had been in poor health for some time and was hospitalised during Euro 2012 after suffering a heart scare in Poland.

EUSEBIO’S HONOURS

BENFICA 
Portuguese League
1960-1961, 1962-1963, 1963-1964, 1964-1965, 1966-1967, 1967-1968, 1968-1969, 1970-1971, 1971-1972, 1972-1973, 1974-1975
 
Portuguese Cup
1962, 1964, 1969, 1970, 1972

European Cup
1962

PORTUGAL 
World Cup third place
1966

INDIVIDUAL
European Footballer of the Year
1965

European Footballer of the Year runner-up
1962, 1966

European Golden Boot
1968, 1973

European Cup top scorer
1965, 1966, 1968

FIFA World Cup Golden Boot
1966
 
Portuguese League top scorer
1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1970, 1973

Superb technique: Eusebio scores with a flying kick in the 1963 European Cup final with AC Milan at Wembley
Superb technique: Eusebio scores with a flying kick in the 1963 European Cup final with AC Milan at Wembley
On the ball: Eusebio in action for Benfica against Arsenal in 1971
On the ball: Eusebio in action for Benfica against Arsenal in 1971

 

Legends united: Eusebio with Bobby Moore in 1980
Legends united: Eusebio with Bobby Moore in 1980

Real Madrid confirmed they will hold a minute’s silence at the Bernabeu ahead of Monday’s league clash with Celta Vigo and that their players will wear black armbands in respect to Eusebio, with coach Carlo Ancelotti paying his respects in his pre-match press conference.

‘It’s very sad news,’ he said. ‘We want to send our best wishes to his family and his friends.’

Hundreds of Benfica supporters paid their final respects to the player at the Estadio da Luz on Sunday evening after his coffin was presented at the home of the Portuguese club.

Nicknamed the Black Panther, Eusebio da Silva Ferreira was famed for his speed, technique and a fearsome right-foot shot that earned him 733 goals in 745 competitive matches in his career.

He is widely considered to be one of the best players to ever grace a football pitch.

Eusebio won the Ballon d’Or in 1965 and was runner-up in 1962 and 1966.

At Benfica, he helped them to 11 Portuguese League titles and five Cups, as well as establishing them as a major European force.

In 1962, he scored twice in a remarkable 5-3 win over the all-conquering Real Madrid in the final in Amsterdam.

However, his three other appearances in the European Cup final ended in defeat.

In 1963, he scored but Benfica lost 2-1 to AC Milan at Wembley; in 1965, Internazionale beat them 1-0 in the San Siro; and in 1968, Matt Busby’s Manchester United won 4-1 in extra time at Wembley.

He played his last match for Benfica in 1975 and played out his career largely in the North American Soccer League (NASL) before finally hanging up his boots in 1980.

Leap: Eusebio heads the ball beyond England's Nobby Stiles in the semi-final of the 1966 World Cup at Wembley
Leap: Eusebio heads the ball beyond England’s Nobby Stiles in the semi-final of the 1966 World Cup at Wembley

 

Disappointment: Eusebio walks from the Wembley pitch after England eliminated Portugal following a 2-1 win
Disappointment: Eusebio walks from the Wembley pitch after England eliminated Portugal following a 2-1 winCurrent Portuguese hero Cristiano Ronaldo led the tributes, tweeting a picture of the pair and writing ‘Always eternal #Eusebio, rest in peace.’

Another former Portugal star, Luis Figo, also tweeted a picture with Eusebio and called him ‘the King!’

Tribute: Manchester United posted this on their Instagram account
Tribute: Manchester United posted this on their Instagram account

 

Winners: With Sir Bobby Charlton and the European Cup outside Old Trafford in 2003
Winners: With Sir Bobby Charlton and the European Cup outside Old Trafford in 2003

 

Legends past and present: Eusebio presents Cristiano Ronaldo with an award to mark his 50th cap for Portugal in 2007
Legends past and present: Eusebio presents Cristiano Ronaldo with an award to mark his 50th cap for Portugal in 2007

 

Tribute: The Eusebio statue outside the Estadio da Luz, home of Benfica
Tribute: The Eusebio statue outside the Estadio da Luz, home of Benfica

 

Sir Bobby Charlton and Eusebio Sir Bobby Charlton and Eusebio

‘Eusebio was one of the finest players I had the privilege to play against. Not only that, he was a true sportsman, as he proved in applauding Alex Stepney for his save in the 1968 European Cup final. His goals record is incredible and stands the test of time. I met him on many occasions after our playing careers had finished and he always represented his club and his country in exemplary fashion. I feel proud to have been both an opponent and friend.’

SIR BOBBY CHARLTON
Manchester United and England 

Eusebio was born in Portuguese East Africa, now known as Mozambique, on January 25, 1942.

Raised in poverty, he would skip school classes to play barefoot football with his friends on dirt pitches with balls made of socks and newspapers.

Eusebio and his friends would later form an amateur team named Os Brasileiros (The Brazilians) in honour of the 1950 Brazil World Cup side.

He was rejected by his favourite team and Benfica’s feeder side Gropo Desportivo de Lourenco de Marques, but joined Sporting Clube de Lourenco Marques.

Argument: Eusebio in earnest conversation with George Best and Bobby Charlton during the 1968 European Cup final
Argument: Eusebio in earnest conversation with George Best and Bobby Charlton during the 1968 European Cup final

 

Club legend: Eusebio spent 15 years with Portuguese giants Benfica, winning 11 league titles and the European Cup
Club legend: Eusebio spent 15 years with Portuguese giants Benfica, winning 11 league titles and the European Cup

 

At 15, he was spotted by a Juventus scout and offered youth terms in Italy, but his mum Elisa didn’t want him to move.

Having moved to Lisbon in his late teens, Eusebio joined Benfica at the age of 18 but the decision was controversial.

Sporting Clube de Lourenco Marques in Mozambique were the feeder club of Sporting Lisbon, Benfica’s great rivals, and they believed Eusebio had been illegally approached.

While the transfer upheaval died down, Eusebio was hidden in the Algarve by Benfica under a pseudonym.

Ball juggler: Showing off some good ball control ahead of a European Cup semi-final with Tottenham in April 1962
Ball juggler: Showing off some good ball control ahead of a European Cup semi-final with Tottenham in April 1962

 

Challenge: AC Milan's Cesare Maldini attempts to stop Eusebio in the 1962 European Cup final
Challenge: AC Milan’s Cesare Maldini attempts to stop Eusebio in the 1962 European Cup final

 

His talent was well documented and Sporting were understandably disappointed to miss out on a young player who could run 100m in 11 seconds and possessed an almighty shot.

Eusebio’s Benfica debut came on June 1, 1961 against Vitoria Setubal in the Portuguese Cup and he scored and missed a penalty (one of just five he missed in his career) in a 4-1 defeat.

His breakthrough season came in 1961-1962: although Benfica would come only third in the league, he scored twice in the final of the Cup against Setubal.

His first full season as a professional was capped with a European Cup triumph as he scored twice in a 5-3 win over Real Madrid in the Amsterdam final.

Guard: Eusebio was assigned two policemen during the 1966 World Cup to keep autograph hunters at bay
Guard: Eusebio was assigned two policemen during the 1966 World Cup to keep autograph hunters at bay

 

Time to relax: Taking a breather after a Portugal training session at the team's Wilmslow hotel during the 1966 World Cup
Time to relax: Taking a breather after a Portugal training session at the team’s Wilmslow hotel during the 1966 World Cup

 

League success came easily for Benfica and they became a feared force in continental competition throughout the Sixties.

Eusebio reached three more European Cup finals, in 1963, 1965 and 1968, but would never add a second winners’ medal.

In the dying seconds of the latter final with Manchester United, with the scores tied at 1-1, he was spectacularly denied in a one-on-one situation by goalkeeper Alex Stepney.

Instead of running back, Eusebio stood and applauded the save in a remarkable display of sportsmanship.

United went on to win 4-1 in extra time, becoming the first English side to win the European Cup, but Eusebio was warm in his praise of Stepney

Penalty king: Eusebio beating England Gordon Banks and the Soviet Union's Lev Yashin (below) from 12 yards at the 1966 World Cup
Penalty king: Eusebio beating England Gordon Banks and the Soviet Union’s Lev Yashin (below) from 12 yards at the 1966 World Cup

 

Penalty king: Eusebio beating England Gordon Banks and the Soviet Union's Lev Yashin (below) from 12 yards at the 1966 World Cup

 

During this time, he won a string of individual honours, including the Ballon d’Or for European Footballer of the Year in 1965 and the European Golden Boot in 1968 and 1973.

His last appearance for Benfica came on June 18, 1975.

Eusebio spent the twilight of his career in the North American Soccer League with the Boston Minutemen, Toronto Metros-Croatia and Las Vegas Quicksilvers, interspersed with spells at other clubs in Portugal and Mexico.

Internationally, Eusebio scored 41 goals in 64 matches – a record that stood until Pauleta surpassed it in October 2005.

Heroes: With Gordon Banks and Bobby Charlton at Banks's Testimonial match between Stoke and Manchester United in 1973
Heroes: With Gordon Banks and Bobby Charlton at Banks’s Testimonial match between Stoke and Manchester United in 1973

 

Legends: With Brazilian great Pele at the draw for Euro 2004
Legends: With Brazilian great Pele at the draw for Euro 2004

 

His Portugal debut came on October 8, 1961 against Luxembourg, a match they lost 4-2 despite a Eusebio goal.

English fans of a certain age will remember his brilliance at the 1966 World Cup, as his nine goals guided Portugal to third place.

Trailing 3-0 at Goodison Park to North Korea in the quarter-final, Eusebio scored four times to rescue a 5-3 win.

Despite scoring a late penalty, Eusebio’s World Cup dream was ended by England and he famously walked off the Wembley field in tears

 

 

Source : Daily Mail

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