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.

Slideshow of pictures from the BBC.

Tributes page from the BBC.


  1. Thank you for taking the time to write this wonderful tribute, Nicola! I appreciate knowing the man. Did you know much about him before you moved to Portugal?

  2. I knew a little about him – for some reason unknown to me now I got very caught up in World Cup fever in 1966 , which of course was the year England won. So I knew of his World Cup achievements. I had no idea of his career in the intervening years , but living with a Benfica supporter I soon caught up to speed. He has done quite a lot of television work recently , including developing Benfica TV, a TV channel dedicated to Benfica Football Club where a lot of the behind the scenes work has been shown. In the short time I have been reacquainted with him I have sensed a very down to earth , practical , pragmatic and caring man, who was not inclined to rest on his laurels and keen to continue to as much good as he could.

    1. I love the backstory, thanks for sharing! I admire World Cup fans. Americans don’t tend to have a lot of patience for soccer/football — but the intensive love for the game internationally cannot be denied.

      It was an honor to publish your lovely tribute!

  3. It was my first and last case of World Cup Fever ! Cured in one ! I have to say I have much more curiosity about how the Portuguese people are behaving both inside and outside of the “official structures” themselves. To have a period of “Official Mourning” is not something I have experienced before , to visibly see the Portuguese peoples passion , not only for football but the man as well, and the way it spreads right through the generations is also a once in a lifetime experience for me. Football really was the “great escape” for the people living under Salazar.

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