'Black Panther' dies at 71
Lisbon - Portuguese football legend Eusebio, who was the top scorer in the
1966 World Cup, has died on Sunday at the age of 71 years, his former club
Benfica have confirmed.
Regarded as one of the greatest footballers of
all time, the player known as the "Black Panther", died after suffering
cardio-pulmonary arrest early on Sunday morning.
signs of fragility lately, but I didn't expect this at all," said Joao
Malheiro, author of the player's biography "Eusebio - my story", who had
spoken to him last week.
The player's remains were taken during
the day to the Luz stadium (Stadium of Light) in Lisbon where Benfica
fans had already begun to flock to lay flowers and pray on front of
Eusebio's statue on hearing the news.
Fans will be able to pay their respects as his remains will be lying in repose in the stadium's chapel from 1730 GMT on Sunday.
funeral mass will be celebrated in the Seminary Church near the stadium
on Monday at 1600 GMT and the footballer will be laid to rest
afterwards at the Lumiar cemetery, in the city's northern suburbs,
Benfica said in a statement.
In line with Eusebio's wishes his
coffin will before the funeral ceremony, around 1330GMT, be carried
around the Luz stadium, where his fans can pay their final respects.
Portuguese government have already decreed three days of national
mourning, with flags in Lisbon to fly at half-mast. The Portuguese
Football Federation (FPF) said there would be a minute's silence ahead
of Sunday's Portuguese Cup games, as tributes flowed in for the player.
has today lost one of its most beloved sons, Eusebio da Silva Ferreira.
The country mourns his death. The country is officially in mourning,"
President Anibal Cavaco Silva said.
"Everyone remembers the day he
left the field in tears, crying for Portugal. Eusebio's tears are today
ours," he added referring to Eusebio's tears after losing the 1966
World Cup semi-final to England.
"Football has lost a legend,"
FIFA president Sepp Blatter wrote on Twitter. "But Eusebio's place among
the greats will never be taken away."
"The king! Great loss for
all of us! The greatest!" wrote former Portuguese international Luis
Figo, who retired in 2009 with a national record of 127 caps, while
current Portugal captain Ronaldo wrote: "Always eternal #Eusebio, rest
The Mozambique-born striker made his name at Benfica,
winning 11 league titles and one European Cup during a 15-year spell
there. He also won two Golden Boot awards as Europe's leading
Recruited aged 19 by the Lisbon club for his
exceptional technical and physical qualities he helped the club win the
1962 European Cup against the Real Madrid of Argentine legend Alfredo Di
"He was not only one of the greatest figures of football
but also of Portugal. Eusebio is Portugal," Chelsea's Portuguese coach
Jose Mourinho told RTP.
"I grew up with Eusebio and Amalia
Rodrigues (singer who died in 1999), ... as the great symbols of
Portugal. They are simply immortal," he said.
"There are princes of football but Eusebio was in the gallery of kings," former Benfica coach Toni told TSF radio.
addition to his 11 league titles, Eusebio won five Portuguese cups in
his 15 years at Benfica and was Portugal's top league scorer between
1964 and 1973.
He scored 733 times in 745 professional matches.
Despite his scoring record, however, his only appearance at a World Cup finals was in 1966 in England.
was the best player in the world, top scorer in the world and Europe. I
did everything, except win a World Cup," Eusebio said in a interview in
2011, recalling his tears after Portugal's loss in the 1966 World Cup
semi-final to England.
He helped Portugal however take third place
in the tournament, where he was top scorer with nine goals. In total he
scored 41 goals in 64 appearances for Portugal.
always be with us," said Portuguese football federation president
Fernando Gomes, pointing out the the player had passed away during the
FPF's centenary year when a ceremony had already been planned to honour
the former international.