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Portuguese football legend Eusebio dies at 71

© AFP

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-01-05

Football legend Eusebio, the top scorer at the 1966 World Cup, has died, the Portuguese club Benfica announced Sunday. He was 71.

Benfica said he died of cardio-pulmonary arrest in the early hours of the morning.

Eusebio played for Benfica in Lisbon for 15 seasons, scoring 317 goals in 301 matches. He scored the last two goals as Benfica beat Real Madrid, 5-3, in the 1962 European Cup final.

He played 64 times for Portugal, scoring 41 goals, nine of them in six games at the World Cup finals in England in 1966 including four goals in the quarterfinal against North Korea.

Eusebio was the European Footballer of the Year in 1965 and won the Golden Boot for the top scorer in European football in 1968 and 1973.

Eusebio ad Silva Ferreira was born in Mozambique when it was still a Portuguese colony. As a child he played football barefoot in the streets of Lourenco Marques, now Maputo. He told the Guardian newspaper in 2010 that he learned to play with "socks or newspaper rolled into a ball".

He started with the local club, Sporting, but was brought to Portugal at the age of 19 by Benfica.

A fast, skilful centre forward with a ferocious right-foot shot, he was nicknamed the “Black Panther” and became the first great African star of global football.

Eusebio stayed with Benfica until 1975, winning 11 Portuguese league titles. He also appeared in three more European Cup finals with the club, but Benfica lost them all. He retired in 1980 after stints with three smaller Portuguese teams and three clubs in North America.

He was the leading scorer for the national team until he was overtaken by Cristiano Ronaldo who has 47 goals in 109 games for Portugal.

Ronaldo joined the tributes on Sunday, tweeting a picture of himself and Eusebio with the caption: “Always eternal #Eusebio, rest in peace”.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2014-01-05

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