Soccer World Mourns Loss of Eusebio

Soccer World Mourns Loss of Eusebio

Portuguese Great, Former Oceaneer

eusubio2The soccer world today is morning the loss of Eusébio da Silva Ferreira, nicknamed the Black Panther, the Black Pearl or o Rei (the King), who played for Benifica and the Portuguese national team before ending his career in the United States in the North American Soccer League and American Soccer League.

I saw Eusobio in my very first soccer game while he played for the Rhode Island Oceaneers in the ASL, but I was too young, he was too old and it was too long ago to remember much from those 90 minutes at Pierce Field in East Providence.

The U.S. team will play Portugal in their second game of the World Cup this summer in Brazil.

 

From The New York Times:

Eusebio, Who Represented the Best of Soccer and of Portugal, Dies at 71

He was the center of gravity in that tournament. It was his time. He personally willed Portugal back from a shocking 3-0 deficit to North Korea, the strangers who had already stunned Italy into a tomato barrage back home. Eusebio da Silva Ferreira — known as Eusebio in the Latin soccer single-name fashion — died on Sunday in Lisbon. He would have turned 72 on Jan. 25. His death was announced on the website of his longtime club, Benfica, and confirmed by his biographer, Jose Malheiro, who said he died of heart failure.

Eusebio carried Portugal to a third-place finish at the World Cup in 1966, after seven failures to qualify. In 1998, a panel of 100 experts gathered by FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, named him one of the sport’s top-10 greats.

He was awarded the Ballon d’Or in 1965 as Europe’s player of the year and twice won the Golden Boot — in 1968 and ’73 — for being the top scorer in Europe.  His death led Portugal to declare three days of national mourning.

. . . Eusebio’s legacy is best seen and heard in the documentary, “Goal! The World Cup,” issued in 1967, with commentary by Brian Glanville. In the third match of the first round, a Portuguese player steamrollered the sport’s greatest star, Pelé, already playing with an injury. Eusebio stood by Pelé as the medics attended to him. The rumor was that Eusebio chastised his teammate, but he said, no, he stood by Pelé because “He is my friend.”

Portugal eliminated Brazil, but then fell behind, 3-0, to North Korea in the first 25 minutes. However, Eusebio scored four goals, and Portugal won, 5-3.

“That was the best game of my life in a Portugal jersey,” Eusebio said. “It left its mark on me.”

The semifinal was supposed to be played in Liverpool, where Portugal was ensconced, but it was hurriedly shifted to Wembley, outside London, for its great capacity. Playing in its national stadium, England seemed truly at home. A wiry defender, Nobby Stiles, with more gall than teeth, marked Eusebio until a late penalty-kick goal in a 2-1 loss for Portugal.

The big man patted the cheek of the English keeper, hugged the English defenders, and only when he reached the edge of the field did he begin to cry. (He scored his ninth goal of the World Cup in the third-place victory over the Soviet Union.)

From Goal:

Was Eusebio Portugal’s greatest?

EUSEBIO
CRISTIANO RONALDO

715/727

TOTAL GAMES/GOALS

611/395

1.02

GOALS PER GAME

0.64

64/41

INTERNATIONAL GAMES/GOALS

109/47

0.64

GOALS PER GAME

0.43

53/46

EUROPEAN CUP GAMES/GOALS

108/59

0.87

GOALS PER GAME

0.51

11 Portuguese league

1 European Cup

5 Portuguese cups

MAJOR TROPHIES

3 English leagues

1 Spanish league

1 European Cup

1 English cup

1 Spanish cup

1 European Player of the Year

1 World Cup Golden Boot

2 European Golden Shoes

3 European Cup top scorer

2 Portuguese Player of the Year

INDIVIDUAL AWARDS

1 Ballon d’Or

1 World Player of the Year

2 European Golden Shoes

2 English Player of the Year

8 Portuguese Player of the Year

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