Portugal, and the world of football (soccer), is in mourning today after the death of one of its favorite sons — “The King” of Portuguese football Eusébio — has died from a heart attack aged 71.
The funeral is tomorrow.
Three days of National mourning have been declared by the president.
Born in Mozambique – previously a Portuguese colony the “Pantera Negra” — Black Panther — started his football career in with Sporting Lourenco-Marques, a nursery club of Sporting Lisbon, but was signed by Benfica for £7,500 at the age of 19.
While at Benfica he helped his side beat Real Madrid 5-3 in the European Cup final in 1962. He won 10 league championships and five cups in his 15 years with the club.
For his national team he scored 41 goals in 64 internationals, was named European Footballer of the Year in 1965 and was top scorer at the 1966 World Cup with nine goals.
The striker scored 733 times in 745 professional games.
Since retiring from the game, he has been acting as a goodwill ambassador for Portuguese football and Benfica in particular.
He was so good and so popular ( like a national monument) that the former Portuguese dictator António de Oliveira Salazar refused him permission to travel overseas through fear of him not returning and when he did travel with the national team he was closely guarded.
So tomorrow, Monday, I will stand and watch as respects are paid to a man who was undoubtedly a legendary player and a legendary man.