25 January 2022, 08h10

Eusébio da Silva Ferreira

An icon! A king! A legend! This is how Eusébio da Silva Ferreira, the greatest name in the glorious history of Sport Lisboa e Benfica, who, this Tuesday, January 25th, would celebrate his 80th birthday, will always be remembered.

"I was born to play football!" – The emotional words emphasized the conviction of Eusébio, who lived up to it during his 15 years playing for Benfica. "When I stepped onto to the pitch, looking at that crowd... whether it was 50 thousand or 200 thousand people, I wasn't afraid, I wanted to show my football to make that crowd happy"

In the Mafalala neighborhood, one of the poorest in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, he kicked the ball for the first time in the street. At the Desportivo de Lourenço Marques, Benfica's subsidiary in Mozambique, had his first approach to football with the rules of the time, after a start in the team "Os Brasileiros".

"When I stepped onto to the pitch, looking at that crowd... whether it was 50 thousand or 200 thousand people, I wasn't afraid, I wanted to show my football to make that crowd happy!"

Eusébio da Silva Ferreira

Next, he moved to Sporting de Lourenço Marques, where he scored 77 goals in 42 matches played between 1957 and 1960. A tenacious Benfica made him arrive in Lisbon on the sly, under the code name Ruth, in the face of a dispute with Sporting for his signing, this in December 1960.

Eusébio made his official debut with an eagle on his chest on July 1, 1961, against Vitória de Setúbal, in the second leg of the round of 16 of the Portuguese Cup, in which he was a starter and scored in the 4-1 loss, in which the Reds played with the reserve team. This after, the day before, on May 31, 1961, Benfica won its first European Cup, in Bern, against Barcelona (3-2).


With the Sacred Mantle,he earned the nickname Black Panther, managing to score 638 goals in 614 games (an average of more than one goal per game). 


The 10 National Championships, the five Portuguese Cups, one European Cup (he didn't participate in the Bern final for administrative reasons) and five Lisbon Cups of Honor reflect much of what was his performance in the Club.

Ballon d'Or with an eagle on his chest

It was 1965 when Eusébio became the first Portuguese player to receive the Ballon d'Or award, an unparalleled status, even today, in a national team jersey.


The European achievements of the King include 46 goals in the European Cup and hewas the top scorer in the1964/65, 1965/66 and 1967/68 editions, with nine, seven and six goals, respectively.

... and two Golden Boots

On October 29, 1973, Eusébio signed another page of glory in the history of European football , winning, for the second time in his career, the Golden Boot award, given since 1967/68 by the French sports newspaper L'Équipe.


He showed Portugal to the world

If Eusébio was already a leading figure at the time, due to Benfica's sportive successes, the mythical national goal scorer gained more expression for the way he led the National Team and the name of Portugal to its best ever classification in a World Cup, specifically in 1966, where he won the competition's Golden Boot with nine goals scored, beating the German Helmut Haller with six goals.


Portugal lost against England in the semi-finals (2-1), beating the Soviet Union (2-1) in the 3rd place playoff. 

Representing the National Team, Eusébio da Silva Ferreira amassed 64 caps, played 594 minutes, scored 41 goals. He made his debut on October 8, 1961, against Luxembourg, in the World Cup qualifier, scoring a goal in a 4-2 defeat. His last match with the Portuguese national team took place on October 13, 1973, in which he captained the National Team in the draw (2-2) against Bulgaria, at Estádio da Luz, in the qualifiers for the 1974 World Cup.

Statue for an immortal

Eusébio continued his career in the United States in 1975, joining the Boston Minutemen. Before hanging his boots, he represented Monterrey (Mexico), Toronto Metros-Croatia (Canada), Beira-Mar, Las Vegas Quicksilvers (United States), União Tomar, New Jersey Americans and Buffallo Stallions (United States). 


Eusébio, on January 25, 1992, marking his 50th birthday, saw the inauguration of a statue of himself in front of the old Estádio da Luz.

The new Cathedral was erected, being inaugurated on October 25, 2003, and the King's statue was placed near Gate 18 of Estádio da Luz.

An eternal farewell!

Portugal and the world were in shock on January 5, 2014. The news that nobody wanted to hear arrived and Eusébio da Silva Ferreira said goodbye to all mortals, walking towards the Olympus of eternity. 



He rests in the National Pantheon



"Eusébio didn't die, he is only physically absent!"

António Simões, Benfica Legend

At the ceremony, in addition to the family of the former football player, were the members of the governing bodies of Benfica, led by then President Luís Filipe Vieira, and many of those who had contact with Eusébio both on and off the pitch, such as Humberto Coelho, João Vieira Pinto, Shéu Han, and the current President of Sport Lisboa e Benfica, Rui Costa, ou António Simões, who stated before the highest political instances of the time about the one who nicknamed him "white brother: "Eusébio didn't die, he is only physically absent!"

Eusébio rests in room 2 of the National Pantheon, next to Aquilino Ribeiro (writer), Sophia de Mello Breyner (writer) and Humberto Delgado (military and politician).


Infografia títulos

Text: Rui Miguel Gomes
Photos: Archive / SL Benfica
Last update: Friday, June 24, 2022

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