Eusébio da Silva Ferreira GCIH GCM (European Portuguese: [ewˈzɛβju ðɐ ˈsiɫvɐ fɨˈʁɐjɾɐ]; 25 January 1942 – 5 January 2014) was a Mozambican-born Portuguese footballer who played as a striker. He is considered one of the greatest footballers of all time[3][4] and S.L. Benfica's greatest ever player.[5] During his professional career, he scored 733 goals in 745 matches (41 goals in 64 matches for Portugal).[4] Nicknamed the Black Panther,[6] the Black Pearl,[7] or o Rei[8][9] (the King), he was famous for his speed, technique, athleticism and his ferocious right-footed shot, making him a prolific goalscorer.

Eusebio (1963).jpg
Eusébio with Benfica in 1963
Personal information
Full name Eusébio da Silva Ferreira
Date of birth (1942-01-25)25 January 1942
Place of birth Lourenço Marques, Portuguese Mozambique
(present-day Maputo, Mozambique)
Date of death 5 January 2014(2014-01-05) (aged 71)
Place of death Lisbon, Portugal
Height 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)[1]
Position(s) Striker
Youth career
Sporting Lourenço Marques
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1957–1960 Sporting Lourenço Marques 42 (77)
1961–1975 Benfica 301 (317)
1975 Boston Minutemen 7 (2)
1975 Monterrey 10 (1)
1975–1976 Toronto Metros-Croatia 21 (16)
1976 Beira-Mar 12 (3)
1976–1977 Las Vegas Quicksilvers 17 (2)
1977–1978 União de Tomar 12 (3)
1978–1979 New Jersey Americans 9 (2)
1979–1980 Buffalo Stalions (indoor) 5 (1)
Total 436 (424)
National team
1961–1973 Portugal[2] 64 (41)
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

Eusébio helped Portugal reach third place at the 1966 World Cup, being the top goalscorer of the tournament with nine goals (including four in one match against North Korea)[7] and received the Bronze Ball award.[10] He won the Ballon d'Or award for European footballer of the year in 1965 and was runner-up in 1962 and 1966. He played for Benfica for 15 out of his 22 years as a footballer, thus being mainly associated with the Portuguese club, and is the team's all-time top scorer with 473 goals in 440 competitive matches. There, he won eleven Primeira Liga titles, five Taça de Portugal titles, a European Cup (1961–62) and helped them reach three additional European Cup finals (1963, 1965, 1968). He is the eighth-highest goalscorer in the history of the European Cup and the second-highest, behind Alfredo Di Stéfano, in the pre-Champions League era with 48 goals. He was the European Cup top scorer in 1964–65, 1965–66 and 1967–68. He also won the Bola de Prata (Primeira Liga top scorer award) a record seven times. He was the first ever player to win the European Golden Boot, in 1968, a feat he replicated in 1973.

Eusébio's name often appears in best player of all time lists and polls by football critics and fans. He was elected the ninth-best footballer of the 20th century in a poll by the IFFHS and the tenth-best footballer of the 20th century in a poll by the World Soccer magazine.[3] Pelé named Eusébio as one of the 125 best living footballers in his 2004 FIFA 100 list. He was seventh in the online poll for UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll. In November 2003, to celebrate UEFA's Jubilee, he was selected as the Golden Player of Portugal by the Portuguese Football Federation as their most outstanding player of the past 50 years.[11] He has been called "Africa's first great footballer"[7] and "Africa's greatest-ever player".[7]

From his retirement until his death, Eusébio was an ambassador of football and was one of the most recognizable faces of his generation. Homages by FIFA, UEFA, the Portuguese Football Federation and Benfica have been held in his honour. Former Benfica and Portugal teammate and friend António Simões acknowledges his influence on Benfica and said: "With Eusébio maybe we could be European Champions, without him maybe we could win the league". Shortly after Eusébio's death, Alfredo Di Stéfano stated: "For me Eusébio will always be the best player of all time".[12]

Early lifeEdit

Eusébio was born in the Mafalala neighbourhood, Lourenço Marques (now Maputo), Portuguese Mozambique on 25 January 1942. His parents were Laurindo António da Silva Ferreira, a white railroad worker from Malanje, Angola, and Elisa Anissabeni, a black Mozambican woman.[13] He was Elisa's fourth child. Raised in an extremely poor society, he used to skip school classes to play barefoot football with his friends on improvised pitches and using improvised footballs. His father died from tetanus when Eusébio was eight years old, so Elisa almost exclusively took the parental care of young Eusébio.[14]

Club careerEdit

Early careerEdit

Eusébio first started to play for a local amateur team called Os Brasileiros (The Brazilians), in honour of the great Brazil national team of the 1950s that he and his friends formed, they would play under the names of some of those superstars. The balls they used were made of socks stuffed with newspapers rolled into spheres. He tried to enlist with some friends for the team Grupo Desportivo de Lourenço de Marques, his favourite team and a Benfica feeder team, also the team where Mário Coluna had played before his move to Benfica, but was rejected, without even being given a chance to prove his worth.[15][16] He then tried his luck with Sporting Clube de Lourenço Marques, who accepted him. He affirmed that he was spotted by a former Juventus goalkeeper turned scout when he was 15 years old: "When I was 15, Juventus of Italy, wanted to hire me, because one of their scouts, who had been a famous Italian goalkeeper for them, saw me and told them that there was a boy with a potential, that it would be good to take advantage while I was still unknown. Juventus proposed but my mum never wanted to hear anything from anyone".[17]

Eusébio played for two seasons with their youth team, while he made sporadic appearances in the senior team.[18] There he won the Campeonato Provincial de Moçambique and the Campeonato Distrital de Lourenço Marques in his last season, in 1960.


Eusébio moved to Lisbon in his late teens, after joining Benfica as an 18-year-old from his local club, Sporting de Lourenço Marques, for 350,000 Portuguese escudos (equivalent to €136,000 in 2009). Benfica discovered Eusébio due to the efforts of Brazilian former player José Carlos Bauer, who saw him in Lourenço Marques in 1960. Eusébio could run 100 metres in under 11 seconds.[citation needed] Although he preferred playing with the right side foot, Eusébio could use the left side just as well. At times, Eusébio would surprise opponents with his dribbling ability, seemingly, a talent he preferred to keep secret. Bauer recommended Eusébio first to his former club, São Paulo, but the Tricolor turned him down.

Bauer had been asked by his former coach at São Paulo, Béla Guttmann, to keep an eye out for talented players during a ten-week tour to Africa, and when São Paulo could not afford the asking price for Eusébio, Bauer then recommended him to Guttmann, who was coaching Benfica at the time.[19][20] Guttman moved quickly and signed the then-19-year-old for Benfica.[21]

Eusébio during his time at Benfica. He is the club's record goalscorer, with 473 goals in 440 competitive matches.

The move was controversial; Sporting Lourenço Marques was a subsidiary of Sporting CP, and the two rivals disputed the legality of the transfer. According to Eusébio: "I used to play in Sporting's feeder club in Mozambique. Benfica wanted to pay me in a contract to go while Sporting wanted to take me [to Portugal] as a junior player for experience with no monetary reward. Benfica made a nice approach. They went to speak to my mum, my brother, and offered €1,000 for three years. My brother asked for double and they paid it. They signed the contract with my mother and she got the money."[7]

By 15 December 1960, Eusébio arrived at Lisbon and was sent to Lagos, in the Algarve, with Benfica fearing a kidnapping operation by Sporting rivals. During his transfer he was codenamed Ruth Malosso.[22] He remained there for 12 days, until the transfer upheaval calmed down. While he stayed in a hotel room he was warned for possible run-overs. Eusébio considered leaving Portugal, but his mother convinced him to stay.[23]

Benfica registered Eusébio only in May the next year, and he made his first appearance for them against Atlético Clube de Portugal in a friendly game on 23 May 1961. He scored a hat-trick in a 4–2 victory.[24] His debut in an official match was on 1 June 1961, against Vitória de Setúbal, in the third round second leg of the 1960–61 Taça de Portugal. The game was controversially scheduled for the day after the European Cup final against Barcelona and the Portuguese Football Federation did not postpone it. As the first team was returning from Bern, Benfica played with the reserve squad and was defeated 1–4. Eusébio scored a goal and missed a penalty (the first of only five he missed throughout his career), but this was not enough to win the round (4–5 on aggregate). On 10 June 1961, Eusébio played for the first time in the Primeira Divisão, the last match day against Belenenses, where he scored a goal in a 4–0 win. On 15 June, Benfica played the final of the invitational Tournoi de Paris against Pelé's Santos, and in the beginning of the second half, with Benfica down 0–4, Béla Guttmann decided to bring Eusébio from the bench to substitute Santana. Shortly after coming in, Santos reached 0–5. However, between the 63rd and the 80th minute, Eusébio scored 3 goals and suffered a foul inside the penalty area, the penalty taker, José Augusto, failed to score though. The game finished 6–3 for Santos, with Eusébio being on the cover of the famed French sporting newspaper L'Équipe.

Eusébio strikes against Real Madrid during the 1962 European Cup Final.

His following season was the one where he started to gain global recognition among football fans and critics alike. He scored 12 goals in 17 league matches, and even though the club finished third, they won the Taça de Portugal against Vitória de Setúbal, with Eusébio scoring two goals in the final. In that same season, he won the European Cup, also scoring two goals in the final against Real Madrid in a 5–3 result to Benfica. Due to his fine form during the season, he finished second in the 1962 Ballon d'Or, in his first complete season as a professional. In October 1963, he was selected to represent the FIFA team in the "Golden Anniversary" of The Football Association at Wembley Stadium.

Eusébio celebrating Benfica's 1962 European Cup victory

Benfica were also European Cup runners-up in 1963, 1965 and 1968. In the 1968 defeat to the English league champions Manchester United at Wembley Stadium, with the scores 1–1, he came close to winning the game for Benfica in the dying seconds of the game, only to have his shot saved by Alex Stepney. Despite this, and the fact that the English side went on to win 4–1 in extra time, he openly congratulated Stepney for his efforts throughout the game, stopping to applaud Stepney, as he threw the ball back into play.[25]

He received a number of individual accolades and awards while playing for Benfica. He was the 1965 European Footballer of the Year (Ballon d'Or) and finished as runner-up twice, in 1962 and 1966, and in 1968 was the first winner of the Golden Boot Award, as Europe's leading scorer, a feat he repeated five years later. He was the Portuguese First Division's top scorer seven times (1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1970 and 1973), helping Benfica to win 11 Primeira Liga (1960–61, 1962–63, 1963–64, 1964–65, 1966–67, 1967–68, 1968–69, 1970–71, 1971–72, 1972–73 and 1974–75), 5 Portuguese Cup wins (1961–62, 1963–64, 1968–69, 1969–70 and 1971–72), 1 European Cup win (1961–62) and 3 European Cup finals (1962–63, 1964–65 and 1967–68).

Eusébio scored 473 goals in 440 official matches for Benfica,[26][27] including 317 goals in 301 Primeira Liga matches,[28] and 59 goals in 78 matches of UEFA club competitions. Overall, he scored 727 goals in 715 matches wearing Benfica's jersey.[29]

Later careerEdit

Eusébio (right) with Pelé (left) and Brian Joy (centre) before a game in the NASL in April 1977

In 1976–77 and 1977–78, Eusébio played for two smaller Portuguese clubs, Beira-Mar, in the first division, and União de Tomar, in the Second Division.

He also played in the North American Soccer League (NASL), for three different teams, from 1975 to 1977: Boston Minutemen (1975), Toronto Metros-Croatia (1976), and the Las Vegas Quicksilvers (1977).[30] His most successful season in the NASL was in 1976 with Toronto Metros-Croatia. He scored the winning goal in their 3–0 victory at the Soccer Bowl '76 to win the NASL title.[31] The same year, he played ten games for Monterrey in the Mexican league.

The following season (1977), he signed for the Las Vegas Quicksilvers. By this time, injuries had taken their toll on the Black Panther, and he was constantly receiving medical treatment whilst playing for the Quicksilvers. During the season, he only managed to score two goals.

Although his knees robbed him of his ability to continue in the NASL, Eusébio wanted to continue to play soccer. He found a home in 1978 with the New Jersey Americans of the second-tier American Soccer League (ASL). He went on to play five games for the Buffalo Stallions during the 1979–80 Major Indoor Soccer League season. He retired in 1979 and formed part of the technical committee of the Portugal national football team.[32]

International careerEdit

Eusébio was the leading scorer for his country, with 41 goals in 64 matches, until Pauleta equalled and surpassed his record[7] against Latvia on 12 October 2005. Eusébio was also the most capped Portuguese player from 1972, until Tamagnini Nené made his 64th cap against Yugoslavia on 2 June 1984 in a friendly match, breaking Eusébio's record during the UEFA Euro 1984 on 20 June against Romania. He made his debut for the Portugal national team against Luxembourg on 8 October 1961, a match his country lost 4–2, with the player scoring his country's first goal in the match.

1966 World CupEdit

Eusébio as Portugal's captain against Argentina

After Portugal qualified for the 1966 World Cup, they were drawn in Group 3, alongside Bulgaria, Hungary and the reigning champions Brazil. After a modest performance against Hungary in the first game, Eusébio scored a goal against Bulgaria. Topping the group with two wins, the team would play against the Brazilians for the final group match. With an injured Pelé, Portugal had no trouble in defeating them with two goals from Eusébio, including a famous volley from a tight angle after a corner kick. The result meant Brazil's early elimination.

In the quarter-final, Portugal played North Korea, who had defeated and eliminated Italy in the group stage. After trailing 0–3 in the 25th minute, Eusébio proceeded to score four consecutive goals, two before half time and two in the first fifteen minutes of the second half. His fourth goal in that match came from a penalty when two North Korean players tackled him after a fast run Eusébio had made from the middle of the Portuguese half to the opposition's penalty area. Portugal came back to win 5–3.[33]

In the semi-final match Portugal would have to face England. There was controversy about where the match would be hosted. Goodison Park in Liverpool was the original venue for the game. However, due to intervention from the English officials, the venue changed to Wembley. It was rumoured that this had happened because of fear from English officials of the Portuguese performance and embarrassment if England lost in their own country with a debuting team.[34] Portugal had to make a last-minute train trip from Liverpool to London. Throughout the game Eusébio was closely marked by England's defensive midfielder Nobby Stiles, but still managed to score Portugal's only goal from the penalty spot in the 82nd minute, ending yet-to-be broken records of seven consecutive clean sheets and 708 minutes without conceding a goal for the English team.[35] After scoring the penalty, Eusébio went on to catch the ball and saluted Gordon Banks. The goal was not enough to nullify Bobby Charlton's two earlier goals. António Simões had a last-minute chance only for Stiles to make it into a corner. Portugal lost 1–2 and Eusébio famously walked off the pitch in tears, being comforted by both his teammates and opponents. The game is known as the Jogo das Lágrimas (Game of Tears) in Portugal.

In the third place match, Portugal played against the Soviet Union. In the 12th minute after a handball inside the area, Eusébio scored the opening goal (his ninth and final World Cup goal) from the penalty spot. Although Lev Yashin guessed the side in which the ball would go, he was powerless to save it. Again and as he had done before with Banks, Eusébio went to salute his friend Yashin after he had scored. Portugal won the game 2–1 to what remains their best ever World Cup participation, and the best performance by a team on its debut since Italy's victory in 1934 (subsequently equalled by Croatia in 1998).

In addition to winning the Golden Boot (with nine goals) for the 1966 World Cup, Eusébio also set a record that year for the most penalties scored (shoot-out not included), with four. Eusébio's four goals against North Korea in the quarter-final match also helped Portugal tie the record for largest deficit overcome in a win (three goals, equaling Austria in 1954) and he became the fifth player to score as many goals in a FIFA World Cup match, a record he jointly held until Oleg Salenko scored five in the 1994 World Cup. The English were so impressed by Eusébio's performances that his waxwork was immediately added to the Madame Tussauds in London.[35] He also received the BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year for 1966.[36]

Personal lifeEdit

Eusébio accompanied by his wife, Flora, in April 1972

Eusébio was a devout Roman Catholic and married Flora Claudina Burheim in 1965.[37]


Eusébio died at his home on 5 January 2014 of heart failure, aged 71.[38][39] Many well-known people from the football world expressed their condolences and praise, including his contemporaries Franz Beckenbauer and Bobby Charlton.[40] The Portuguese Football Federation made a statement and said that a moment of silence was to be observed in Portuguese football matches. There were tributes from Cristiano Ronaldo,[40] Luís Figo,[41] José Mourinho,[42] Carlos Queiroz,[43][44] FIFA President Sepp Blatter[40] UEFA president Michel Platini,[45] Greg Dyke, and former President of Mozambique and childhood friend Joaquim Chissano.[46]

Eusébio's tomb in the National Pantheon, Lisbon

Following Eusébio's death, the Portuguese government declared three days of national mourning. Hundreds of thousands paid tribute to him.[47] On 6 January 2014, a mass was held at the Igreja do Seminário do Largo da Luz. On 9 January, one of his wishes was granted as his coffin was transported around the field of the Estádio da Luz.[29][48][49] Three days later, his statue (inaugurated on his 50th birthday)[50] at the Praça Centenarium was transformed into a memorial.[51][52] Hours later, the name "Eusébio" was on the back of every Benfica players' shirts during "O Clássico".[53]

Precisely one year after his death, the avenue in front of the Estádio da Luz was renamed Avenida Eusébio da Silva Ferreira, becoming its new address.[54] On 3 July, his remains were moved to the National Pantheon, where notable Portuguese personalities are buried. Parliament voted unanimously for him to be interred there. Eusébio was the first footballer to be buried at the Pantheon.[55]

In September 2019, Eusébio was, along with Maria Mutola, referred by Pope Francis as an example of perseverance, during the latter's visit to Mozambique.[56]

Career statisticsEdit


Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League Cup Europe[57] Other[a] Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Sporting de Lourenço
1957 Moçambola 4 9 4 9
1958 7 11 7 11
1959 11 21 11 21
1960 20 36 20 36
Total[58] 42 77 42 77
Benfica 1960–61[59] Primeira Divisão 1 1 1 1 0 0 2 2
1961–62[60][61] 17 12 7 11 6 5 1 1 31 29
1962–63[62][63] 24 23 6 8 7 6 2 1 39 38
1963–64[64] 19 28 6 14 3 4 28 46
1964–65[65] 20 28 7 11 9 9 36 48
1965–66[66] 23 25 2 5 5 7 30 37
1966–67[67] 26 31 3 7 4 4 33 42
1967–68[68] 24 42 2 2 9 6 35 50
1968–69[69] 21 10 9 18 5 1 35 29
1969–70[70] 22 21 2 1 4 4 28 26
1970–71[71] 22 19 7 9 3 7 32 35
1971–72[72] 24 19 5 8 8 1 37 28
1972–73[73] 28 40 1 0 4 2 33 42
1973–74[74] 21 16 3 2 4 1 28 19
1974–75[75] 9 2 0 0 4 0 13 2
Total 301 317 61 97 75 57 3 2 440 473
Boston Minutemen 1975[76] NASL 7 2 7 2
Monterrey 1975–76 Mexican Primera División 10 1 10 1
Toronto Metros-Croatia 1976[76][77] NASL 21 16 21 16
Beira-Mar 1976–77[58] Primeira Divisão 12 3 12 3
Las Vegas Quicksilvers 1977[76] NASL 17 2 17 2
União de Tomar 1977–78[58] Segunda Divisão 12 3 12 3
New Jersey Americans 1978[76] ASL 9 2 9 2
Buffalo Stallions (indoor) 1979–80[76] MISL 5 1 5 1
Career total 436 424 61 97 75 57 3 2 575 580
  1. ^ Appearances in Intercontinental Cup


Appearances and goals by national team and year[78]
National team Year Apps Goals
Portugal 1961 2 1
1962 5 2
1963 1 0
1964 6 4
1965 7 7
1966 12 12
1967 6 3
1968 2 1
1969 4 2
1970 1 0
1971 5 2
1972 9 4
1973 4 3
Total 64 41


Statue of Eusébio outside Estádio da Luz

Sporting de Lourenço Marques


Toronto Metros-Croatia



Eusébio's seven Bolas de Prata on display at Museu Benfica
Eusébio's Golden Foot in Monaco


See alsoEdit



  • Tovar, Rui Miguel (2012). Almanaque do Benfica [Benfica's Almanac] (in Portuguese). Alfragide: Lua de Papel. ISBN 978-989-23-2087-8.


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Further readingEdit

  • Ferreira, Eusébio da Silva (October 1966). Meu nome é Eusébio, autobiografia do maior futebolista do mundo [My name is Eusébio, autobiography of the world's greatest footballer] (first ed.). Publicações Europa-América.
  • Melo, Afonso de (March 2005). Viagem em redor do planeta Eusébio [Trip around planet Eusébio] (Second ed.). PrimeBooks. ISBN 972-8820-49-6.
  • Lopes, Luís (2008). Os Magníficos: Eusébio, um dos imortais do jogo [The Magnificents: Eusébio, one of the game's imortals] (First ed.). QuidNovi. ISBN 978-989-554-503-2.
  • Malheiro, João (2014). Eusébio, a biografia [Eusébio, the biography] (first ed.). Verso da História. ISBN 978-989-8657-53-4.


  • Juan de Orduña, Eusébio, la Pantera Negra (1973)
  • Filipe Ascensão, Eusébio: História de uma Lenda (2017)
  • António Pinhão Botelho, Ruth (2018)

External linksEdit