Lisbon, Portugal (4E Sports) – Legendary striker Eusebio, who steered Portugal to third-place finish in the 1966 World Cup with nine goals and considered one of the greatest players of all-time, died of cardiac arrest Sunday. He was 71.
“Portugal is in mourning. He died in the early hours of Sunday, a victim of cardiac arrest, Eusebio da Silva Ferreira, the King, King of Magricos 1966 and eternal symbol of the country, the Seleçao and SL Benfica,” the Portuguese Football Federation said on its official website.
Over the past 12 months, Eusebio had been in and out of the hospital due to heart and respiratory problems.
Born in Mozambique, Eusebio moved to Europe and made his name with Benfica, winning the 1962 European Cup and being named European Footballer of the Year three years later in 1965.
However, glory did not come easy for Eusebio as his Benfica side that was expected to dominate Europe in the 1960s tasted European Cup final heartache in 1963, 1965 and 1968.
Nonetheless, Eusebio sealed his place as one of the world’s most fearsome attacking talents, netting a remarkable 733 times in 745 professional games.
Real Madrid star and current Portuguese football icon Cristiano Ronaldo led the tributes to Eusebio on Twitter.
“The king! Great loss for all of us! The greatest!” tweeted former Portugal winger Luis Figo.
“I think he is immortal. We all know what he meant for football and especially for Portuguese football. He was not only a great inspiration but also an important figure in upholding the values, principles and feelings of football,” said compatriot and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.