Tue, Jan 07, 2014 - Page 18 News List

Thousands expected to attend Eusebio’s funeral

AFP, LISBON

When Madrid’s legendary Hungarian Ferenc Puskas symbolically handed his jersey to Eusebio after the match, the message was clear — the torch had passed and in 1965 Eusebio was awarded the Ballon d’Or.

However, while Eusebio excelled with Benfica in Europe, it was his exploits at the 1966 World Cup for which he will be best remembered.

Eusebio’s nine goals in England propelled Portugal to a third-placed finish, and a succession of opposing teams simply had no answer to the power and pace of his play.

He scored twice in the 3-1 victory which sent holders Brazil out of the competition.

In the quarter-finals Eusebio was unstoppable, pulling off a one-man rescue act after Portugal went 3-0 down against North Korea after just 20 minutes.

North Korea were blown away by a four-goal display from Eusebio as Portugal won 5-3.

In the semi-final against England, Eusebio was effectively marked out of the match, but he did find the net again.

He scored his ninth goal of the tournament in the third-placed playoff win over the Soviet Union.

He finished his 64-cap career having accumulated 41 goals for Portugal. He also earned European soccer’s Golden Boot award twice and was Portugal’s top scorer every season between 1964 and 1973.

He helped Benfica to 11 league championships and five domestic cups.

In 1975 he joined the flow of players involved in the ill-fated North American Soccer League, before retiring in 1979 after winding down his career in Mexico and Portugal.

Married with two daughters, in retirement he became an ambassador for Benfica and the Portuguese soccer federation.

“Eusebio will always be eternal. Rest in peace,” Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo wrote in a message posted on Facebook alongside a photograph of himself and his hero.

A ceremony at which the Portuguese president is to present Ronaldo with a prestigious honor has been postponed from today until later in the month in respect of Eusebio’s passing, the presidential office announced.

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