Eusébio da Silva Ferreira, GCIH, GCM (Portuguese pronunciation: [ewˈzɛbiu ðɐ ˈsiɫvɐ fɨˈʁɐjɾɐ]; 25 January 1942 – 5 January 2014), commonly known simply as Eusébio, was a Mozambican-born Portuguese football forward. He is considered one of the greatest footballers of all-time. During his professional career, he scored 733 goals in 745 matches.
He helped the Portuguese national team reach third place at the1966 World Cup, being the top goalscorer 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'Oraward 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, 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 in Mozambique 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.
Eusébio's name often appears in best player of all time lists and polls by football critics and fans. 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 Soccermagazine. Pelé named Eusébio 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 celebrateUEFA'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. He has been called "Africa's first great footballer" and "Africa's greatest-ever player".
From his retirement to his death, Eusébio had been an ambassador of football and was one of the most recognizable faces of the sport. He is often praised for his known fair play and humbleness, even by opponents. There have been held several homages by FIFA, UEFA, thePortuguese Football Federation and Benfica in his honour. Former Benfica and Portugal teammate and friend António Simões acknowledges his influence on Benfica and said: "With Eusébio maybe we could be European Champions, without him maybe we could win the League."
Eusébio was born in the Mafalala neighborhood, Lourenço Marques (now Maputo), Portuguese East Africa (now Mozambique) on 25 January 1942. Born to Laurindo António da Silva Ferreira, awhite Angolan railroad worker from Malanje and Elisa Anissabeni, a black Mozambican woman. He was Elisa's fourth child. Raised in an extremely poor society, he used to skip school classes to play barefoot football with his friends in improvised pitches and using improvised footballs. His father died from tetanus when Eusébio was 8-years-old, so Elisa almost exclusively took the parental care of young Eusébio.
He first started to play for a local amateur team called Os Brasileiros (The Brazilians), in honour of the great Brazilian team of the 1950s that he and his friends formed, they would play under the names of some of those superstars. The balls they used were made of socks and newspapers. He tried to enlist with some friends for the team Grupo Desportivo de Lourenço de Marques, his favourite team and a Benfica's feeder team, also the team where Mário Coluna had played for before his move to Benfica, but was rejected, without even being given a chance to prove his worth. He then tried his luck with Sporting Clube de Lourenço Marques, who accepted him. He has affirmed that he was spotted by a former Juventus goalkeeper turned scout when he was 15 years-old: "When I was 15, Juventus of Italy, wanted to hire me, because one of their scouts, who had been a famous Italian goalkeeper for them, saw me and told them that there was a boy with a potential, that it would be good to take advantage while I was still unknown. Juventus proposed but my mum never wanted to hear anything from anyone".
Eusébio played for two seasons with their youth team, while he made sporadic appearances in the senior team. There he won the Campeonato Provincial de Moçambique and the Campeonato Distrital de Lourenço Marques in his last season, in 1960.
He moved to Lisbon in his late teens, after joining Benfica as an 18-year-old from his local club, Sporting Clube de Lourenço Marques, for 350,000$ PTE (equivalent to €136,000 in 2009). Benfica discovered Eusébio due to the efforts of former Brazilianplayer José Carlos Bauer, who saw him in Lourenço Marques in 1960. Eusébio could run the 100m in 11 seconds. Bauer recommended Eusébio first to his former club, São Paulo, but the Tricolor turned him down. Bauer then discussed Eusébio with his former coach in São Paulo, Béla Guttmann, who was coaching Benfica at the time.
By 17 December 1960, Eusébio arrived at Lisbon and was sent to Lagos, in the Algarve, with Benfica fearing a kidnapping operation by Sporting rivals. During his transfer he was codenamed Ruth Malosso. He remained there for 12 days, until the transfer upheaval would calm down. While he stayed in a hotel room he was warned for possible running-overs. Eusébio considered leaving Portugal, but his mother convinced him to stay. Eusébio had the largest circumference around his quadriceps of any footballer ever measured. The move was controversial however; Sporting Lourenço Marques was a subsidiary of Sporting Clube de Portugal and the two rivals disputed the legality of the transfer. According to Eusébio: "I used to play in Sporting's feeder club in Mozambique. Benfica wanted to pay me in a contract to go while Sporting wanted to take me [to Portugal] as a junior player for experience with no monetary reward.Benfica made a nice approach. They went to speak to my mum, my brother, and offered €1,000 for three years. My brother asked for double and they paid it. They signed the contract with my mother and she got the money".
Benfica only registered him on May the next year and Eusébio made his first appearance for them against Atlético Clube de Portugal in a friendly game on 23 May 1961. He scored a hat-trick in a 4–2 victory. His debut in an official match was on 1 June 1961, against V. Setúbal, in the 2nd leg of the Round 3 of the 1960/61 Portuguese Cup. This game was controversially scheduled to the following day of theEuropean Cup final against Barcelona and the Portuguese Football Federation didn't postpone the game; as the first team was returning from Berna, Benfica played with the reserve squad and was defeated 1–4. Eusébio scored a goal and missed a penalty (the first of only five he missed throughout his career), but wasn't enough to win overall the round (4–5 on aggregate). On 10 June 1961, Eusébio played for the first time on the National Championship, the last matchday against Belenenses where he scored a goal in a 4–0 win. On June 15, Benfica played the final of the invitational Tournoi de Paris against Pelé's Santos and in the beginning of the second half, with Benfica down 0–4, Béla Guttmann decided to bring from the bench Eusébio to substituteSantana. Shortly after coming in, Santos reached 0–5, however between the 63rd and the 80th minute, Eusébio scored 3 goals and suffered a foul inside the penalty area, the penalty taker, José Augusto, failed to score though. The game finished 6–3 for Santos, with Eusébio being on the cover of the famed French sporting newspaper, L'Équipe.
His following season was the one where he started to gain global recognition among football fans and critics alike. He scored 12 goals in 17 league matches and even though the club finished third, they won the Portuguese Cup against Vitória de Setúbal, with Eusébio scoring two goals in the final. In that same season, he won the European Cup, also scoring two goals in the final againstReal Madrid in a 5–3 result to Benfica. Due to his fine form during the season, he finished second in the 1962 Ballon d'Or, in his first complete season as a professional.
With Eusébio playing for Benfica, they were also European Cup runners-up in 1963, 1965 and 1968. In the 1968 defeat to Englishleague champions Manchester United at Wembley, with the scores 1–1, he came close to winning the game for Benfica in the dying seconds of the game, only to have his shot foiled by a spectacular Alex Stepney save. Despite this, and the fact that the English side went on to win 4–1 in extra time, he openly congratulated Stepney for his efforts throughout the game, stopping to applaud Stepney, as he threw the ball back into play.
In total, he has had a number of individual recognitions and awards while playing for Benfica. He was the 1965 European Footballer of the Year (Ballon d'Or) and finished as runners-up twice, in 1962 and 1966, and in 1968 was the first winner of theGolden Boot Award, as Europe's leading scorer, a feat he repeated five years later. He was the Portuguese First Division's top scorer seven times (1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1970 and 1973), helping Benfica to 11 Primeira Liga wins (1960–1961, 1962–63, 1963–64, 1964–65, 1966–1967, 1967–1968, 1968–1969, 1970–1971, 1971–1972, 1972–1973 and 1974–1975), 5 Portuguese Cup wins (1961–1962, 1963–1964, 1968–1969, 1969–1970 and 1971–1972), 1 European Cup win (1961–1962) and 3 European Cup finals (1962–1963, 1964–1965 and 1967–1968). He scored 638 goals in 614 matches wearing Benfica's jersey, including 319 goals in 313 Primeira Liga matches, 97 goals in 60 Taça de Portugal matches and 57 goals in 76 European competitions matches (65 games on European Cups, 7 games on the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and 4 games on the UEFA Cup). He played 9 games in European and World National Teams – 4 for the FIFA team and 5 for the UEFA team and scored 8 goals.
His last game with Benfica's shirt was on 18 June 1975, against the African team, in Casablanca. Alfredo Di Stéfano once said:To me, Eusébio will always be the best player of all time
In 1976–77 and 1977–78, Eusébio played for two minor Portuguese teams, Beira-Mar, in the First Division, and União de Tomar, in the Second Division.
He also played in the North American Soccer League (NASL), for three different teams, from 1975 to 1977: Boston Minutemen(1975), Toronto Metros-Croatia (1976, and the Las Vegas Quicksilvers (1977). His most successful season in the NASL was in 1976 with Toronto Metros-Croatia. He scored the winning goal in their 3–0 victory at the 76 Soccer Bowl to win the NASL title. The same year, he played ten games for Monterrey in the Mexican league.
The following season (1977), he signed for the Las Vegas Quicksilvers. This was to be a very disappointing end to Eusébio's career. By this time, injuries had taken their toll on The Black Panther, and he was constantly receiving medical treatment whilst playing for the Quicksilver. During the season he only managed to score two goals.
Although his knees robbed him of his ability to continue in the NASL, Eusébio wanted to continue to play soccer. He found a home in 1978 with the New Jersey Americans of the second-tier American Soccer League (ASL). He was forced to retire for good at the end of the season. He played five games for the Buffalo Stallions during the 1979–1980 Major Indoor Soccer League season.
In October 1963, he was selected to represent the FIFA team in the "Golden Anniversary" of the "Football Association" at Wembley Stadium.
He retired in 1979 and formed part of the technical committee of the Portugal national football team.
Eusébio was the all-time leading scorer for his country, with 41 goals in 64 matches, until Pauleta equalled and surpassed his record against Latvia on 12 October 2005. Eusébio was also the most capped Portuguese player from 1972, until Tamagnini Nené made his 64th cap against Yugoslavia on 2 June 1984 in a friendly match, breaking Eusébio's record during the UEFA Euro 1984 on 20 June against Romania. He made his debut for the Portuguese national team against Luxembourg on 8 October 1961, a match his country lost 4–2, with the player scoring his country's first goal in the match.
1966 World Cup
Eusébio as captain of Portugal national team in match against Argentina
After Portugal qualified for the 1966 World Cup, they were drawn in Group 3, alongside Bulgaria, Hungary and the reigning World Cup champions Brazil. After a modest performance against Hungary in the first game, Eusébio scored a goal against Bulgaria. Topping the group with two wins, the team would play against the Brazilians for the final group match. With an injured Pelé, Portugal had no trouble in defeating them with two goals coming from Eusébio, including a famous volley from a tight angle after a corner kick. The result meant Brazil's early elimination.
For the quarterfinal, Portugal played against Korea DPR, who had defeated and eliminated Italy in the group stage. After trailing 0–3 in the 25th, Eusébio proceeded to score four consecutive goals, two before half time and two in the first fifteen minutes of the second half. His last goal in that match came from a penalty when two North Korean players tackled him after a fast run Eusébio had made from the middle of the Portuguese half pitch to the opposition's penalty area. Portugal came back to win 5–3.
In the semi-final match Portugal would have to face England. There was controversy to where the match would be hosted. Goodison Park in Liverpool was the original venue for the game. However, due to intervention of the English officials, the venue changed to Wembley. It was rumoured that this had happened because of fear from English officials of the Portuguese performance and embarrassment if England lost in their own country with a debuting team. Portugal had to make a last minute train trip from Liverpool to London.
Throughout the game Eusébio was closely marked by defender Nobby Stiles, but still managed to score Portugal's only goal from the penalty spot in the 82nd minute, ending yet-to-be broken records of 7 consecutive clean sheets and 708 minutes without conceding a goal for the English team. After scoring the penalty, Eusébio went on to catch the ball and saluted Gordon Banks. The goal was not enough to nullify Bobby Charlton's two earlier goals, António Simões had a last minute chance only for Stiles to put the ball into corner. Portugal lost 1–2 and Eusébio famously walked off the pitch in tears, being comforted by both his teammates and opponents. The game is known as Jogo das Lágrimas (Game of Tears) in Portugal.
In the consolidation game, the third place match, Portugal played against the Soviet Union. In the 12th after a handball inside the area, Eusébio scored the opening goal (his 9th and final World Cup goal) from the penalty spot. Although the legendary Lev Yashin guessed the side in which the ball would go, he was powerless to save it. Again and as he had done before with Banks, Eusébio went to salute his friend Yashin after he had scored. Portugal won the game 2–1 to what remains their best ever World Cup participation.
In addition to winning the Golden Boot (with nine goals) for the 1966 World Cup, Eusébio also set a record that year for the most penalties scored (shoot-out not included), with four. Eusébio's four goals against Korea DPR in the quarter-final match also helped Portugal tie the record for largest deficit overcome in a win (three goals, equaling Austria in 1954) and he became the fifth player to score as many goals in a FIFA World Cup match, a record he jointly held until Oleg Salenko scored five in the 1994 World Cup. The English were so impressed by Eusébio's performances that he was immediately added to the Madame Tussauds collection of waxwork. The only game he failed to score was against Hungary, in the first match, meaning that he scored in 5 consecutive World Cup games. Eusébio finished third in the Golden Ball and second in the 1966 Ballon d'Or, trailing Bobby Charlton by a single point. Eusébio said: "A Portuguese journalist voted first place for Bobby Charlton and second place for me. Charlton finished with 81 points and I finished with 80. If he had voted for me, it would be the opposite: me with 81 and Charlton with 80. He always told me he had voted for Charlton because he thought I would win with a great advantage. If he had voted (for me), I would be the first player to win consecutive Ballon d'Ors". In spite of this statement, it is known that it was Eusébio's refusal of giving an interview to this journalist that made him take this decision.
Post World Cup
Eusébio, however, never played in another World Cup finals tournament, though he took part in the 1970 and 1974 qualifiers. His last game for the national team was a 2–2 draw against Bulgaria on 19 October 1973 in a World Cup qualifier.
Despite being retired, Eusébio was a constant presence among the Portuguese national team.
"When I first heard the whole Stadium chanting my name I honestly felt dizzy" (Eusébio da Silva Ferreira).
Reports from the BBC are stating that Eusébio has passed away this morning January 5th 2014