Sunday, January 5, 2014


Eusebio da Silva Ferreira, known as Eusebio in the Latin soccer single-name fashion,  died on Sunday in Lisbon. He would have turned 72 on Jan. 25. His death was announced on the website of his longtime club, Benfica, and confirmed by his biographer, Jose Malheiro, who said he died of heart failure.

Soccer fans called him the Black Panther, he was without a doubt the  most captivating player of the 1966 World Cup.

Playing for Portugal, Eusebio was the center of gravity in that tournament. He personally gave Portugal a victory, after his team was loosing 3-0 to North Korea in the first 25 minutes, the North Koreans had previously already stunned Italy. However, Eusebio scored four goals, and Portugal won that match, 5-3.

Eusebio was born in Mozambique on Jan. 25, 1942, to an Angolan father, but he was able to play for Portugal because those countries were still considered colonies. The rumor grew that he had been kidnapped by Benfica, one of the greatest soccer teams from Portugal, until he signed a contract.

“These are all lies, pure and simple!” Eusebio said in a 2008 forum at “Some people aren’t honest, but me and my family are. My mother signed a contract with Benfica for 250 contos [around $1,700] and she insisted on a clause which read, ‘If my son does not adapt, the money is deposited in the bank in Mozambique and not one penny will be taken from it.’ I had return tickets when I arrived.”

Eusebio carried Portugal to a third-place finish at the World Cup in 1966, after seven failures to qualify. In 1998, a panel of 100 experts gathered by FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, named him one of the sport’s top-10 greats.

He was awarded the Ballon d’Or in 1965 as Europe’s player of the year and twice won the Golden Boot — in 1968 and ’73 — for being the top scorer in Europe.

Portugal has declared three days of national mourning for the loss of one of his greatest players of all times, not only at home, but around the globe.


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