The footballing world lost one of it’s legends today when Portugese great Eusébio da Silva Ferreira commonly called just Eusebio died at the age of 71. The Mozambican-born Portuguese football forward is considered one of the greatest footballers of all-time. During his professional career, he scored 733 goals in 745 matches. Crowned European Footballer of the Year in 1965, Eusebio was Golden Boot winner at the World Cup 12 months later, scoring nine times in just six games, including four in an incredible quarter-final win over North Korea at Goodison Park, when Portugal came back from three goals down, an individual haul exceeded only once in the competition’s entire history.
English audiences were captivated by him. In addition to landing the BBC’s Overseas Sports Personality of the Year award in 1966, he also had a waxwork created by Madame Tussauds in London. So popular had Eusebio become that Portuguese dictator Antonio Salazar passed a decree that prevented the player leaving the country to take up a lucrative offer from Inter Milan. He played for Benfica for 15 years out of his 22 as a footballer, thus being mainly associated with the Portuguese club, and is the team’s all-time top scorer with 638 goals scored in 614 official games. There, he won eleven Primeira Liga titles, five Taça de Portugal titles, a European Cup (1961–62) and helped them reach three additional European Cup finals. He was the European Cup top scorer in 1965, 1966 and 1968. He also won the Bola de Prata (Primeira Liga top scorer award) a record seven times. He was the first ever player to win the European Golden Boot, in 1968, a feat he replicated in 1973.
Nicknamed the Black Panther, the Black Pearl, or O Rei (The King) he was known for his speed, technique, athleticism and his ferocious, accurate right-footed shot, making him an outstanding prolific goalscorer and one of the greatest free-kick takers in history. He is considered Benfica’s and Portugal’s most renowned player and one of the first world-class African strikers. Although born inMozambique and having an Angolan father, Eusébio, like Matateu and Mário Coluna, among others before him, could only play for the Portuguese team, since both of the African countries were overseas territories and their inhabitants were considered Portuguese. From his retirement to his death, Eusébio had been an ambassador of football and was one of the most recognizable faces of the sport. The exact circumstances of his death are not yet known, and his body will be brought to Benfica’s club stadium Estádio da Luz for fans to pay their final respects.He is survived by his wife, Flora, two daughters and several grandchildren.