Skip to main content

Portugal football legend Eusebio dies

By Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Isa Soares, CNN
January 5, 2014 -- Updated 2254 GMT (0654 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Eusebio, 71, died from a heart attack, former club says
  • The striker was considered one of the sport's greatest players
  • Eusebio was top scorer at 1966 World Cup
  • Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo among those to pay tribute

(CNN) -- Portugal football legend Eusebio, who was top scorer at the 1966 World Cup, died at the age of 71, his former club Benfica said Sunday.

He died from a heart attack, the Lisbon side said on its website.

The striker, affectionately known as the "Black Panther," was admired throughout the Portuguese-speaking world and was thought to be among the sport's greatest players.

"Always eternal #Eusebio, rest in peace," Real Madrid forward and current Portugal icon Cristiano Ronaldo tweeted alongside a picture of both men together.

Portugal's former world player of the year, Luis Figo, tweeted that Eusebio was the "king" while Brazil's Pele, considered by many to be the best footballer of all time, tweeted that Eusebio was like a "brother" to him.

"May God receive him with open arms," said Pele.

Eusebio, whose full name was Eusebio da Silva Ferreira, played for three North American Soccer League teams in the twilight of his career but is best known for his exploits in 15 years at Benfica.

Born in 1942 in Mozambique, which was then a Portuguese territory, he scored 41 goals in 64 appearances for his adopted country.

Named European Footballer of the Year in 1965, Eusebio won widespread acclaim the following year at the World Cup in England. He scored nine goals in the competition, helping his team reach the semifinals.

World Cup scorer

He scored two goals as Portugal eliminated defending champions Brazil in the group stage, then netted four times in an incredible quarterfinal comeback against North Korea as his side rallied from 3-0 down to win 5-3 in one of the tournament's most famous matches.

Eusebio scored again in the semifinals against England, but the hosts won 2-1 before beating Germany in the final.

"His talent brought joy for entire generations, even those who didn't live through the most glorious moments of his career," Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva told Portuguese television.

World football body FIFA said Eusebio was considered "one of the best footballers of all time and best ever from Portugal."

"Football has lost a legend," FIFA president Sepp Blatter tweeted as the tributes continued. "But Eusebio's place among the greats will never be taken away."

Added UEFA president Michel Platini: "On the field, Eusebio was a true legend, both in the colors of Portugal and Benfica," he told UEFA's website.

"But also off it, he was a true ambassador for Portuguese football on the international stage. He was more than a footballer. A good and charming man, Eusebio will be sadly missed."

During his career with Benfica, the Lisbon side won the European Cup in 1962. He scored 733 times in 745 professional matches, according to FIFA.

He won 10 league titles and five Portuguese cups with the Eagles and was Portugal's top league scorer between 1964 and 1973.

"We're saddened to hear Benfica legend Eusebio has passed away," tweeted Manchester United. "He was a fantastic player and a friend of the club."

People we lost in 2014

Editors' Note: This article has been edited to remove plagiarized content after CNN discovered multiple instances of plagiarism by Marie-Louise Gumuchian, a former CNN news editor.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Click through our gallery to remember those we lost this year.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1554 GMT (2354 HKT)
Don Pardo, the announcer whose velvety baritone voice introduced "Saturday Night Live" hosts on NBC for decades, has died at age 96.
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 1934 GMT (0334 HKT)
Jim Jeffords, who shifted the balance of power in the Senate when he bolted from the Republican Party in 2001, died at age 80.
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 2132 GMT (0532 HKT)
Former Z-Boys skater Jay Adams died after a heart attack while vacationing in Mexico with his wife. He was 53.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 2335 GMT (0735 HKT)
Actress Arlene Martel, who "Star Trek" fans know as Spock's bride-to-be, died of complications from a heart attack. Martel was 78.
August 13, 2014 -- Updated 2048 GMT (0448 HKT)
Ed Nelson, best known for playing a doctor in the 1960s nighttime soap opera "Peyton Place," has died at 85.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 0308 GMT (1108 HKT)
Actress Lauren Bacall, known for her distinctive, husky voice and sultry sensuality, has died at age 89.
August 13, 2014 -- Updated 0219 GMT (1019 HKT)
Robin Williams, who first made America laugh and eventually touched "every element of the human spirit" in a remarkable range of performances, died at age 63.
August 13, 2014 -- Updated 2015 GMT (0415 HKT)
Charles Keating, best known for his role as villain Carl Hutchins on the NBC soap opera "Another World," has died at 72.
August 12, 2014 -- Updated 1135 GMT (1935 HKT)
JJ Murphy, an actor who was set to join the "Game of Thrones" cast, died at age 86.
August 6, 2014 -- Updated 1919 GMT (0319 HKT)
Actress Marilyn Burn, a "scream queen" in the original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," has died at age 64.
August 5, 2014 -- Updated 1150 GMT (1950 HKT)
James Brady, former press secretary to Ronald Reagan who was severely wounded in a 1981 assassination attempt on the President, has died at age 73.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 1325 GMT (2125 HKT)
Nearly 69 years ago, Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk navigated a U.S. B-29 Superfortress called the Enola Gay over Hiroshima, Japan, on a sunny August day.
July 29, 2014 -- Updated 2139 GMT (0539 HKT)
James Shigeta, a prolific and pioneering Asian-American actor whose 50-year career includes the movies "Die Hard" and "Flower Drum Song," has died at age 81.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
Actress Skye McCole Bartusiak, who played Mel Gibson's youngest daughter in "The Patriot," has died at age 21.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1334 GMT (2134 HKT)
James Garner, the understated, wisecracking everyman actor who enjoyed multi-generational success on both the small and big screen, has died. He was 86.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1127 GMT (1927 HKT)
Actress Elaine Stritch, known for her brash persona, gravelly voice and versatility over seven decades on Broadway, has died at age 89.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1628 GMT (0028 HKT)
American blues guitarist and singer Johnny Winter died in a hotel room in Switzerland at age 70.
July 14, 2014 -- Updated 2159 GMT (0559 HKT)
Nadine Gordimer, the Nobel Prize-winning South African author and anti-apartheid activist, has died at age 90.
ADVERTISEMENT