Portugal Football Legend Eusebio Dies at 71
Eusebio da Silva Ferreira, Portugal's biggest sporting legend has passed away early Sunday, at the age 71.
Portuguese football hero one of soccer's greatest-ever strikers has died of cardio-pulmonary arrest, the Lusa news agency reported, citing sources from his former club Benfica.
Eusebio, was born in Mozambique to an Angolan father.
He helped the Portuguese national team reach third place at the 1966 World Cup, being the top goal scorer of the tournament with nine goals (including four in one match against North Korea) and received the Bronze Ball award. He won the Ballon d'Or award in 1965 and was runner-up in 1962 and 1966. 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. Eusebio has been called "Africa's first great footballer" and "Africa's greatest-ever player."
He was elected the 9th best footballer of the 20th century in a poll by the IFFHS and the 10th best footballer of the 20th century in a poll by the World Soccer magazine. Pelé named Eusebio as one of the 125 best living footballers in his 2004 FIFA 100 list. He was 7th in the online poll for UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll. In November 2003, to celebrate UEFA's Jubilee, he was selected as the Golden Player of Portugal by the Portuguese Football Federation as their most outstanding player of the past 50 years.
From his retirement to his death, Eusebio had been an ambassador of football and was one of the most recognizable faces of the sport.