Eusébio da Silva Ferreira
GCIH, GCM (Portuguese pronunciation: [ewˈzɛbiu dɐ ˈsiɫvɐ fɨˈʁɐjɾɐ]; born 25 January 1942 – 4 January 2014), commonly known simply as Eusébio, is a retired Portuguese football forward of Mozambican origin. He is considered one of the best footballers of all-time, by the IFFHS.[5] He helped the Portuguese national team reach third place at the 1966 World Cup, being the top goalscorer of the tournament with nine goals (six of which were scored at Goodison Park) and was elected theEuropean Footballer of the Year in 1965. He played for Benfica for 15 years, and is the team’s all-time top scorer.

Nicknamed “The Black Panther“, or “The Black Pearl“, Eusébio scored for Benfica 727 goals in 715 games[citation needed]. He is also known for his speed and his powerful, accurate right-footed strike. He is considered Benfica’s and Portugal’s most renowned player and the first world-class African striker.[6] He was elected the 9th best footballer of the 20th century in a poll by the IFFHS.[5] Pelé named Eusébio as one of the 125 best living footballers in his 2004 FIFA 100 list. 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.[7]

With Eusebio maybe we could be tri European Champions, without him maybe we could win the League.” (António Simões)

Club career

Eusébio was born in Lourenço Marques (now Maputo), Portuguese East Africa (now Mozambique). He moved to Lisbon in his late teens, after joining Benfica as an 18-year-old from his local club, Sporting Club of Lourenço Marques, for 350,000$ PTE (equivalent to €136,000 EUR in 2009 euros). Benfica discovered Eusébio due to the efforts of former Brazilian player José Carlos Bauer, who saw him in Lourenço Marques in 1960. Eusébio could run the 100m in 11 seconds. Bauer recommended Eusébio first to his former club, São Paulo, but the Tricolor turned him down. Bauer then discussed Eusébio with his former coach in São Paulo, Béla Guttmann, who was coaching Benfica at the time.[8]

The move was controversial however: Sporting Lourenço Marques was a subsidiary of Sporting Clube de Portugal and the two rivals disputed the legality of the transfer. According to Eusébio:[9]

“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 the 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.”

In 1962, he won the European Cup with Benfica, scoring two goals in the final against Real Madrid. Benfica won 5–3. Benfica were also European Cup runners-up in 1963, 1965, and 1968.

He was the 1965 European Footballer of the Year and in 1968 was the first winner of the Golden Boot Award, as Europe’s leading scorer, a feat he repeated five years later. The Portuguese First Division‘s top scorer seven times from 1964 to 1973, he helped Benfica to 11 league championships (1961, 1963–65, 1967–69, 1971–73, 1975) and five cup wins (1962, 1964, 1969, 1970, 1972). He scored 727 goals in 715 matches wearing Benfica’s jersey,[10]including 317 goals in 301 Portuguese league matches.[6]

In 1976–77 and 1977–78, Eusébio played for two minor Portuguese teams, Beira-Mar, in I Division, and União de Tomar, in the II 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). His most successful season in the NASL was in 1976 with Toronto Metros-Croatia. He scored in their 3–0 victory at the 76 Soccer Bowl to win the NASL title. The same year, he played ten games for Monterrey in the Mexican league.

The following season (1977), he signed for the Las Vegas Quicksilver. This was to be a very disappointing end to Eusébio’s career. By this time, injuries had taken their toll on The Black Panther, and he was constantly receiving medical treatment whilst playing for the Quicksilver. 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 was forced to retire for good at the end of the season. He played five games for the Buffalo Stallions during the 1979-1980 Major Indoor Soccer League season.

International career

Eusébio was the all-time leading scorer for his country, with 41 goals (in 64 matches), until Pauleta surpassed his record against Latvia on 12 October 2005. He made his debut for thePortuguese national team against Luxembourg on 19 October 1961, a match his country lost 4–2.

He was the leading scorer in the 1966 World Cup where he scored nine goals, including four against Korea DPR in quarterfinals, a match in which Portugal came back to win 5–3 after trailing 0-3.

In the semi-final match against England, Eusébio scored Portugal’s only goal on a penalty in the 82nd minute.

In addition to winning the European Golden Boot 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 Korea DPR in the quarter-final match also helped Portugal tie the record for largest deficit overcome in a win (three goals, equaling Austria in 1954). The English were so impressed by Eusébio’s performances that he was immediately added to the Madame Tussauds collection of waxwork.

Eusébio, however, never played in another World Cup finals tournament, though he took part in the 1970 and 1974 qualifiers. His last game for the national team was a 2–2 draw againstBulgaria on 19 October 1973 in a World Cup qualifier.

Despite being retired, Eusébio is a constant presence among the Portuguese national team.

“When I first heard the whole Stadium chanting my name I honestly felt dizzy“”(Eusébio da Silva Ferreira)

Club Performance League
Season Club League Apps Goals
Portugal League
1960/61 Benfica Portuguese Liga 1 1
1961/62 17 12
1962/63 24 23
1963/64 19 28
1964/65 20 28
1965/66 23 25
1966/67 26 31
1967/68 24 42
1968/69 21 10
1969/70 22 21
1970/71 22 19
1971/72 24 19
1972/73 28 40
1973/74 21 16
1974/75 9 2
United States League
1975 Boston Minutemen NASL 7 2
Mexico League
1975/76 Monterrey Primera División 10 1
United States League
1976 Toronto Metros-Croatia NASL 21 16
Portugal League
1976/77 Beira-Mar Portuguese Liga 12 3
United States League
1977 Las Vegas Quicksilver NASL 17 2
Country Portugal 313 320
United States 45 20
Mexico 10 1
Total 368 341

National team statistics

Portugal national team
Year Apps Goals
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 63 41


Sporting Clube Lourenço Marques
1961, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975
1962, 1964, 1969, 1970, 1972
  • Cup of Honour (Taça de Honra): 9
1962–63, 1964–65, 1966–67, 1967–68, 1968–69, 1971–72, 1972–73, 1973–74, 1974–75
  • Ribeiro dos Reis Cup (Taça de Ribeiro dos Reis): 3
1963–64, 1965–66, 1970–71
Toronto Metros-Croatia
World Cup: third place 1966
  • Silver European Footballer of the Year: 1
  • European Cup Top Scorer: 1
1965; 9 goals)
  • European Cup Top Scorer: (7 goals) 1966: 1
  • European Cup Top Scorer: (6 goals) 1968: 1
  • Golden Boot: 1968, 1973 (42, 40 goals, respectively): 1
  • Portuguese Player (Athlete) of the Year (1970): 1
  • Portuguese Player (Athlete) of the Year (1973): 1
  • Total goals in career (1957–78): 1137: 1
  • UEFA Presidents Award (2010): 1
  • Most Outstanding Portuguese Player of the Past 50 Years: 1