Portugal football legend Eusebio dies

11:34 AM, Jan 5, 2014   |    comments
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Portuguese soccer star Eusebio da Silva Pereira was affectionately known as the "Black Panther."

 


 


(CNN) -- Portugal football legend Eusebio, who was top scorer at the 1966 World Cup, has 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 idolized throughout the Portuguese-speaking world and considered one of the sport's greatest players.

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

Eusebio was European Footballer of the Year in 1965 but won global acclaim a year later at the World Cup in England, where his nine goals helped Portugal reach the semi-finals.

World Cup scorer

He scored two goals as Portugal eliminated defending champions Brazil at 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 semifinal against England, but the hosts won 2-1 before beating Germany in the final.

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

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 ten league titles and five Portuguese cups in his 15 years at Benfica and was Portugal's top league scorer between 1964 and 1973.

Current Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo was among those to pay tribute.

"Always eternal #Eusebio, rest in peace," the Real Madrid and former Manchester United striker tweeted alongside a picture of both men together.

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

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