Skip to main content

Portugal football legend Eusebio dies

By Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Isa Soares, CNN
updated 5:54 PM EST, Sun January 5, 2014
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
updated 12:11 PM EDT, Sat October 25, 2014
Click through our gallery to remember those we lost this year.
updated 3:44 PM EDT, Sat October 25, 2014
Jack Bruce, bassist for the legendary 1960s rock band Cream, has died at 71.
updated 8:55 AM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Ben Bradlee, the charismatic Washington Post editor who guided the paper through the era of the Pentagon Papers and Watergate, has died. He was 93.
updated 2:19 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Legendary fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, who spent half a century putting high society in haute couture, has died. He was 82.
updated 10:53 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Former Australian prime minister Gough Whitlam (right) in Sydney with former Labor Party leader Kim Beazley. Whitlam, one of the nation's most admired figures who led the country through a period of massive change, died on October 21, 2014, aged 98, his family said.
Edward Gough Whitlam, the former Australian Prime Minister who strengthened ties abroad, has died.
updated 2:17 PM EDT, Sun October 19, 2014
Singer and model Joanne Borgella, an "American Idol" contestant in 2008, died at age 32 after a battle with cancer.
updated 1:12 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
"August: Osage County" actress Misty Upham was declared dead by a Washington coroner after her body was found along a river in suburban Seattle.
updated 10:01 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Actress Elizabeth Peña has died of natural causes after a brief illness. She was 55.
updated 8:19 AM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Isaiah "Ikey" Owens, the keyboardist in Jack White's backing band, has died at age 38. The musician also played with bands such as Mars Volta and Free Moral Agents.
updated 9:13 AM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Mark Bell, who founded the highly influential techno music duo LFO and later collaborated with Bjork on several iconic albums, has died.
updated 10:09 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Actress and comedian Jan Hooks died in New York. She was 57
updated 7:29 AM EDT, Tue October 7, 2014
Geoffrey Holder, a versatile artist known for his ability as a dancer, actor and -- most famously to most of America -- a pitchman for 7Up, has died at age 84.
updated 10:58 PM EDT, Sun October 5, 2014
Paul Revere, leader of the 1960s rock band Paul Revere and the Raiders, has died at age 76.
updated 8:03 PM EDT, Sat October 4, 2014
Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier died of a heart attack in Port-au-Prince at the age of 63, a family member told CNN.
updated 11:42 AM EDT, Sun September 28, 2014
Former U.S. Rep. James Traficant of Ohio died after suffering injuries in an earlier accident on his farm.
updated 11:36 AM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Eric "The Actor" Lynch, who became a celebrity among celebrities by calling in to Howard Stern's radio show, died at age 39.
updated 11:38 AM EDT, Sun September 21, 2014
Emmy-winning actress Polly Bergen, whose TV and movie career spanned more than six decades, has died at age 84.
updated 5:01 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Singer George Hamilton IV died at a Nashville hospital following a heart attack. He was 77.
updated 11:30 AM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
Northern Ireland's former first minister and former Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley has died. He was 88.
updated 9:04 AM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
Richard Kiel, the actor best known for playing the James Bond villain "Jaws," died at age 74 in a California hospital.
updated 4:56 PM EDT, Tue September 9, 2014
Actress Molly Glynn, who played an emergency room doctor on several "Chicago Fire" episodes, died from injuries after a tree fell on her during a storm.
ADVERTISEMENT