Portugal and SL Benfica cries their first all-time great player.
Even though in the mind of most young Soccer followers Portugal’s best players are Pedro Pauleta, Rui Costa and now Cristiano Ronaldo, Eusebio was and will forever be the first greatest player Portugal has ever seen.
His supersonic speed associated with his extremely powerful shots made him one of the most dominating strikers of the 1960′ and early 70′, and one of the most celebrated scorer of European soccer.
He was the major offensive contributor to Benfica’s capture of 11 national Super Liga titles between 1960 and 1975. In his prime, he almost single handedly took over the second half of an epic battle against DI Stefano’s Real Madrid scoring a double to give Benfica its second Champion’s league in 1962.
He played 440 games for Benfica and scored a record 473 goals. To this day he remains the all-time leading scorer of the club. He scored 319 goals in the Portuguese domestic premier division in 313 games in 15 years. The sport has rarely seen such an impressive dominant figure. Indeed, he was 7 times the best scorer in the league, and two seasons he scored over 40 goals, 43 goals in 1967-68 and 40 goals in 1972-73.
Eusebio was awarded the 1965 Ballon D’Or, the Golden Ball, which only confirmed that he was the best player in Europe and the second best player on the planet next to Pele.
In 1966, he led Portugal third place in the World Cup hosted and won by England. This is Portugal’s best ever result in the World Cup. Only the forth place of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal in 2006 got closer to Eusebio’s third place. At that occasion, the world of soccer saw a player it will never forget. His dribbling skills, his blazing speed, his remarkable stamina, his extensive pitch activity couple with his ability to score decisively made him one of the best players of the tournament and one of the most celebrated players of his era. Eusebio finished the 1966 world cup as the best scorer of the tournament with 9 goals, and was nominated in the team of the tournament.
Overall, he scored 41 goals in 64 games for the Portuguese national team. When he retired from professional soccer, he was the all-time leading scorer of the Seleçao. Since then Pedro Miguel Pauleta passed him having scored 47 in 88 games so did Cristiano Ronaldo who has scored 49 in 110 games. Whereas it is easy for me to predict that Cristiano Ronaldo will go down in the history of Portuguese soccer as the Seleçao’s all-time leading scorer, it is difficult to see how he can match Eusebio goals per game average. Eusebio is and will forever be one Portugal best offensive player of all-time.
The “Black Panther” is no longer, yet his legend still lives on. Regarded as one of soccer’s best he was named on Pele 125 greatest players, on the FIFA 100 best players of all-time. He certainly makes my top 125 all-time list.
May one rest his soul for we, fans and the soccer world, have already placed him in the pantheon of Soccer greats where he belongs.
Thank You Eusebio