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Portugal and Benfica legend Eusebio dies aged 71

Portuguese football legend Eusebio, widely considered one of the game's greatest ever players, died of a cardiac arrest early Sunday morning

Portuguese footballer Eusebio, widely acknowledged as one of the game’s greatest ever players, has died aged 71.

Eusebio da Silva Ferreira was born in Mozambique before moving to Lisbon in his late teens to join Benfica from his local club.

On the international stage, Eusebio made his name as a fearsome striker for Portugal at the 1966 World Cup, where he was the top-scorer with nine goals, helping his adopted country finish third. 

He won the European Cup with Benfica in 1962 and was named European Footballer of the Year in 1965.

Nicknamed the Black Panther in Portugal, across his career, Eusebio scored 733 goals in 745 competitive games.

The Portuguese sports daily A'Bola said Eusebio had died of a cardiac arrest in the early hours of Sunday morning.


A spokesman for Benfica has confirmed of the death but did not provide any details.

"It's a very sad day for all of us," the spokesperson said.

He had been in poor health for some time and was taken to hospital during Euro 2012 after suffering a heart scare in Poland.

Benfica fans will now be offered the chance to pay their final respects to the player at the Estadio da Luz later on Sunday.

"Eusebio's body will be brought to the stadium later today and all fans will be able to say goodbye," the spokesman said.

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Chelsea's Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho said that Eusebio would be amongst the greats if he was playing in the current era, calling him a “landmark for football”.

“He was one of the great figures of Portugal,” Mourinho told Portuguese state broadcaster RTP

“Eusebio stands for Portugal and the Portuguese, he was a very important person. We all know what he means for football and especially for Portuguese football. Eusebio was an important landmark for football, in terms of values, principles and feeling even after finishing his career.

“Eusebio was from a completely different generation and if you tried to make parallels with football today, he would be at the level of what are the greatest footballers. Today if he was 20 or 30 it would be an amazing thing.”