Thousands of fans gathered at the Stadium of Light in Lisbon on Monday to pay their respects to Portuguese footballing legend Eusebio.
Flags flew at half mast after the Portuguese government decreed three days of mourning for Eusebio da Silva Ferreira, who died of a heart attack early Sunday, aged 71.
Eusebio reigned over Portuguese football in the 1960s, bringing glory to both his club Benfica and his country.
"Portugal has today lost one of its most beloved sons, Eusebio da Silva Ferreira. The country mourns his death," President Anibal Cavaco Silva said.
Eusebio's contemporary Pele, the Brazilian widely regarded as the greatest footballer of all time, took to his Twitter account to tell the world: "I cry for the death of my brother Eusebio."
Pele published a photo of the two men together when Portugal beat Brazil 3-1 in the 1966 World Cup, with Eusebio scoring twice.
The player's body was taken to Benfica's Stadium of Light, or Estadio da Luz, on Sunday. There, fans placed flowers, handmade posters and scarves with the club's red and white colours around a statue of Eusebio.
"Creator of football"
"For me, he is simply the creator of football," said 24-year-old fan Luis Marques. One banner left at the statue read: "I haven't come to say goodbye, but to say thank-you."
On Monday afternoon, in line with Eusebio's wishes, his coffin was carried around the arena which replaced the old Stadium of Light where he so often delighted fans of Benfica and Portugal.
Eusebio, who grew up poor in Maputo, Mozambique when it was still a Portugese colony, scored 733 goals in 745 professional matches.
He also earned European football's Golden Boot award twice and was Portugal's top scorer every season between 1964 and 1973. He helped Benfica to 11 league
championships and five domestic cups.
"I 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 an interview in 2011, recalling his tears after Portugal's loss in the 1966 World Cup semi-final to England.
Married with two daughters, in retirement he became an ambassador for Benfica and the Portuguese football federation.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Fans gather at the Stadium of Light to honour their legend
At the feet of a legend: a little boy looks up at the statue of Eusebio ©AFP
Reaching out: a grieving fan expresses his feelings with a touching gesture ©AFP
At half mast: the flag of UEFA, the governing body of European football ©AFP
A sense of history: visitors to the Benfica museum pause in the section dedicated to Eusebio ©AFP
Coming home: Eusebio's coffin, draped in a Benfica flag, is led into the modern Stadium of Light. Eusebio played at the old stadium for 15 seasons. ©AFP
The legend returns: Eusebio's body arriving Monday at the stadium before one last lap of honour for the adoring fans ©AFP
Colourful homage: Benfica fans drape club scarves over the statue of Eusebio outside the Stadium of Light in Lisbon ©AFP
A modern ghost: a hologram of Eusebio in the Benfica museum with his two golden boots and his Ballon d'Or. ©AFP
Final journey: Eusebio makes his way to the centre circle at the Stadium of Light for the last time. ©AFP
Date created : 2014-01-06