In this Eusebio biography, we are taking a look at one of the best players in football history, and possibly the best ever African player, who revolutionized Portuguese football.
Over the years Portugal has been home to some of the world’s best players, the likes of Luis Figo, Rui Costa and Cristiano Ronaldo but none had quite the influence on the Portuguese football as the great Eusebio did during the 60s and 70s. up until 60s Portugal had been a relatively weak team but Eusebio, who had won the Ballon d’Or a year prior, helped Portugal to a 3rd place finish in the 1966 World Cup by scoring 9 goals and winning the Golden Boot of the tournament.
At the club level, Eusebio spent most of his career at Benfica, where he is considered their greatest player and record all time goal scorer. With Eusebio Benfica reached 4 European Cup finals, one of which they won in 1962, as well as winning 11 league titles. Eusebio himself became the first player to win the European Golden Boot in 1968 and he repeated the feat in 1972. Now that the brief introduction is over, let’s take an extensive look at Eusebio life story and career in this
In this brief Eusebio bio, we take a closer look at how he became the most influential Portuguese player, starting from his days playing football in his Mozambique to his glory days at Benfica and Portugal national team.
So let’s start Eusebio bio with a general information about his physical attributes and his position on the pitch:
Full Name: Eusebio da Silva Ferreira
Nickname: The King, Black Panther, Black Pearl
Profession: former footballer
Height: 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)
Eye Color: Brown
Hair Color: Black
Weight: 76 kg
Professional Debut: 1957
Jersey Number: 10, 13
Date of Birth: 25 January 1942
Birth Place: Lourenço Marques, Portuguese Mozambique
Born in a the Lourenço Marque, Mozambique, back when the country of Mozambique was a colony of Portugal,
Eusebio date of birth
was 25 January 1942. His father, Laurindo António da Silva Ferreira, was a Caucasian railroad worker from Angola and his mother, Elisa Anissabeni, was a Mozambican.
Living on extremely hard conditions, much of
was spent skipping school to play football in the harshest of conditions without any ball or real equipment.
This tough childhood only worsened when the young eusebio lost his father to Tetanus at the age of 8 but through football, Eusebio persevered and would soon leave his life of poverty and hardship behind.
We will take a look at Eusebio’s career as a footballer in the different teams that he played throughout his career in this section of Eusebio biography and starting with his time in Mozambique:
First let’s take a look at Eusebio’s club career as well as his time with the Portuguese national team:
As mentioned before, Eusebio started playing amateur football with his friends, even going as far as making an Amateur team called Os Brasileiros (The Brazilians) which paid tribute to their favorite players of the famous 50s Brazil team.
Eusebio started partaking in trials before he even was 15 and after getting rejected by a Benfica feeder club named Grupo Desportivo de Lourenco de Marques, which was his favorite team, Eusebio then decided to test his luck with aSporting Lisbon
feeder club, Sporting Clube de Lourenco Marques, which accepted him in 1957 and Eusebio’s footballing journey began.
Eusebio stayed with Lourenco Marques for 4 seasons and every season he had more than a goal a game average but his personal best came in 1960 where he scored 36 in 20 games and the club won the league. It wasn’t long before both Benfica and Sporting were after him.
Eusebio’s transfer to Benfica was quite the transfer saga as he was playing for a Sporting Lisbon feeder club and Sporting wanted to bring him over to Portugal as a youth player and not pay him any money, but Benfica got the better of them and offered Eusebio money in exchange for his services and Eusebio accepted. Him accepting the contract was one thing and getting him safely to Portugal to play for Benfica was another thing as Benfica’s leadership feared that he might get kidnapped by Sporting.
Eusebio ended up stayin in a hotel under the name of Ruth Malosso in order to escape any attempts from Sporting and even then it was not until the May of next year that he would get to play for Benfica. Despite Benfica winning the European Cup in 1961 Eusebio didn’t play any matches to earn him a medal but the following season would be his breakout season as he led Benfica to the final once again and made a comeback againstReal Madrid
, winning the match 5-3. Eusebio scored twice in the final and later that year was the runner-up for the Ballon d’Or award, all at the age of 20.
Eusebio didn’t stop after that and led Benfica to 3 other European Cup finals in 1963,1965 and 1968, although they never won the competition again. He finally won the Ballon d’Or in 1965 and was again runner-up in 1966, losing the prize with one vote to Bobby Charlton.
On the domestic front,Benfica
dominated the Portuguese league in the 15 seasons that Eusebio spent there. As they were able to win 11 league titles and 7 Portuguese cup trophies as well as the aforementioned European Cup in 1962 during Eusebio’s tenure at the club.
Eusebio was Portuguese league’s top scorer a record 7 times throughout his career and was even the first player to receive the European Golden Boot in its first season back in 1968, a feat he repeated once more in 1973.
The King of Benfica is without the doubt the club’s best ever player and goal scorer with 473 goals in 440 matches and 19 major honors at the club. On his 50th birthday a statue of him was erected outside the Estadio da Luz and upon his death, his wish was granted as his coffin was carried around the field of the stadium. He will forever be Benfica’s greatest ever player.
His most successful post-Benfica venture was with Toronto Metros-Croatia where he scored 16 goals in 21 matches and helped the club win the 1976 NASL title. Eusebio finally finished his career by playing for the indoor side, Buffallo Stallions in 1980 after which he retired from football.
Although born in Mozambique, which is an independent country since 1975,
is Portuguese, since Mozambique was a colony of Portugal back then. Making his debut for the Portuguese national team in 8 October 1961 against Luxembourg in a match Portugal lost 4-2 but Eusebio scored in, Eusebio has gone on to become possibly their most important player and their first superstar.
Perhaps the highlight of Eusebio’s career as it’s known by many football fans is the 1966 World Cup, wherePortugal
had qualified for the first time in their history. With Eusebio having won the Ballon d’Or just a year prior to the tournament, all eyes were turned on him to perform and the Black Panther delivered.
Portugal was drawn against Bulgaria, Hungary and the defending Champions, Brazil in Group 3. After a slow start from Eusebio in the first two games which saw him score once and Portugal win both matches, the third match against Brazil was when he truly showed his brilliance. With Garrincha injured and Pele getting injured early on in the game, the match would be Eusebio’s show as he scored twice and assisted another in a 3-1 victory that saw Brazil get eliminated. His half-volley goal in that match remains as one of the most famous goals in World Cup history.
Portugal faced the surprise team of the tournament, North Korea DPR, who had eliminated Italy in the group stages and after falling behind 3-0, Eusebio helped Portugal to a historic comeback as he scored 4 and Portugal won 5-3. They faced England in the semi-finals and lost to the eventual champions 2-1 with Eusebio scoring the only Portugal goal and then went on to defeat the Soviet Union in the third place match to become 3rd.
Eusebio ended up winning the Golden Boot of the 1966 World Cup with 9 goals and was named in the Team of the Tournament. To this day it is the best World Cup finish Portugal has ever had. With 41 goals in 64 matches Eusebio is Portugal’s third best goal scorer behind Cristiano Ronaldo (103 goals) and Pedro Pauleta (44 goals).
One of the deadliest finishers that football has ever seen, Eusebio played football almost like a modern striker as he was equally good in front of the goal, scoring chances created by others, as he was at creating those chances for others.
A player of unbelievable pace, who was said to run the 100 meters in less than eleven seconds which was close to the Olympics record back then, Eusebio’s physical prowess was second to none. Not only he was tireless through the match but the sheer power he displayed was astounding.
Although his powerful shots and speed may be what Eusebio was known for, he was also quite the skillful player and was able to beat multiple defenders to create space for himself and his teammates. His unwavering mentality and determination, which was displayed multiple times as he helped his teams make incredible comebacks, was Eusebio’s secret weapon that made him stand apart from many of his cohorts.
A true icon of the game, there are a few players in the history that could be compared to Eusebio in the amount of influence they had over their country and football in general. Aptly named “O Rei” or the King, Eusebio was the player that put Portugal on the map, whether through his exploits at Benfica or in Portugal national team, especially in the 60s.
A Ballon d’Or and European Golden Boot winner, Eusebio’s first and last Ballon d’Or nominations were 12 years apart which show the incredible longevity and consistency his career had. He also lost the Ballon d’Or twice on the finest of margins (once losing with 8 votes difference and once with only 1 vote!).
Prior his death a statue of him outside Benfica’s home ground was erected, a statue that was rightfully crowned by the fans on the day of his unfortunate passing in January of 2014. He has influenced many African and Portuguese players throughout the years but perhaps the best praise he was given was from Alfredo Di Stefano who was Eusebio’s idol growing up, who called Eusebio the best ever player that ever was!
As was the case with many players back in the 60s, Eusebio did not have any elaborate goal celebrations but his goal celebrations from that famous game againstBrazil
in the 1966 World Cup are the most memorable.
Being the most influential figure in Portuguese football, Eusebio played a huge role not only on the field but outside it as well, as he was a black icon in a country that had a heritage of slavery.
He broke racism’s hold on football, which was so prevalent in those days, somewhat and through football brought people together.
Our Eusebio biography wouldn’t be a complete without mentioning his personal life. So read on as we take a look at Eusebio life story, relationships and philanthropy in this
Eusebio was quite the family man. He married his wife Flora Claudina Burheim when he was 23 in 1965 and the couple stayed together for the rest of Eusebio’s life until his passing in 2014.
The couple also have 2 daughters together named Carla and Sandra. Eusebio was also a very religious person as
was Christianity and he was a devout Catholic.
Being an ambassador of FIFA, Portuguese national team and Benfica, Eusebio has taken part in many charitable foundations and projects, whether they were based in Portugal, his nativeMozambique
or around the world.
He was one of the people involved with the FIFA-backed charity, 1GOAL Education for All, which was a charity that aimed to provide education for approximately 70 million children who didn’t have access to schools all over the world, especially across Africa.
He was also a part of several charity matches over the course of his playing career as well as the past two decades, raising money for various charitable causes and foundations.
Eusebio did not have any particular legal issue over the course of his life.
It’s time to review some statistics in this section of Eusebio biography, both for the clubs he played at and the Portugal national team:
isn’t complete without his general statistics in the clubs that he played, starting with Sporting de Lourenco Marques, a club based in his native Mozambique. He started playing for them when he was only 15 and ended up averaging 1.75 goals per game in the four seasons he spent there, scoring 77 goals in 44 matches.
Although Lourenco Marques was a feeder club for Sporting Lisbon, Eusebio decided to join their rivals Benfica in 1960 and soon became a legend of the club. A fruitful 15 years at Benfica followed where Eusebio won 11 league titles and numerous other trophies and ended up scoring 473 goals in 440 matches for Benfica, more than a goal a game.
As Eusebio’s career was starting to come to an end, he left Benfica to pursue football in America as he joined the Boston Minuteman, where he played 7 games and scored 2 before going to Mexico to play forMonterrey
, where he would appear in 10 games before once again returning to America and to Toronto Metros-Croatia. His time there would prove more successful as he scored 16 goals in 21 appearances but he would once again repeat the pattern.
was Eusebio’s destination upon his return to Portugal which was followed by his transfer to Las Vegas Quicksilvers and another return to Portugal which was to the second division team Uniao de Tomar. He went back to America for the remainder of his career to play for the New Jersey Americans and he even tried playing futsal before retiring in 1980.
Making his debut for Portugal in 1961, Eusebio went on to score 44 goals in 61 matches for Portugal. He helped Portugal to a 3rd place finish in the 1966 World Cup and was the country’s all-time leading goal scorer until 2005, when he was overtaken by Pedro Pauleta.
Eusebio never perused management after his career as a footballer ended.
In the final section of Eusebio biography, we take a brief look at his achievements, either team or individual achievements, in a long career that spans 3 continents.
Getting started as a teenager back in the country of his origin, Mozambique, Eusebio played for the Sporting de Lourenco Marques where he stayed for 4 seasons and was able to truly blossom and help the club win the league title in his last season with them, before he was transferred to Benfica in 1960.
Eusebio proceeded to spend 15 years of his 22-year career at Benfica where he received the majority of his club honors. Eusebio was still a teenager when he helped Benfica win the European Cup in 1962, in what was his first full season at the club. From that point on it was Eusebio’s show at Benfica as he led them to 3 more European Cup finals in the span of 5 years and although they lost all three finals, Eusebio helped deliver the domestic titles to sooth the pain.
During his time at Benfica, Eusebio’s incredible goal scoring prowess helped the club win 11 league titles and 7 cup trophies and in the process he became the club’s greatest ever goal scorer and player. The club honored him by raising his statue on his 50th birthday.
Following his lengthy career at Benfica, Eusebio spent some years at various North American teams across, Canada, America and Mexico, with his time at Toronto Metros-Croatia being the most successful where he won the NASL.
Eusebio is also the most influential Portuguese player ever, someone who put Portugal on the map and almost single-handedly brought them their best World Cup finish to date. Which came at the 1966 World Cup, where Eusebio scored 9 goals to help Portugal finish 3rd. he won the Golden Boot and Bronze Ball of the Tournament and was picked for the Team of the Tournament.
On individual level, Eusebio has won the Ballon d’Or in 1965 and has been twice more runner-up for the prize with closest of margins. He was the first ever player to win the European Golden Boot in 1968 and he won it again in 1973. He won the top scorer award in Portugal a record 7 times and was Portugal’s Player of the year twice in 1970 and 1973.
A true legend of the game, Eusebio came from humble beginnings and impacted the game so much, especially in an era that was full of legendary players. The World of football mourned his passing on the 5th of January 2014, 20 days before his 72th birthday, but his influence on the game will live one forever and on that note we have to end our
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