Two of Portugal’s stars in recent years were quick to pay tribute to Eusebio, who passed away yesterday at the age of 71.
Nicknamed the Black Panther, Eusebio was regarded as one of the best players of all time and helped Portugal to third place at the 1966 World Cup, finishing as top scorer in the tournament with nine goals.
The Mozambique-born striker made his name at club level with Benfica, winning 11 league titles during a 15-year spell there and two Golden Boot awards as Europe’s leading goalscorer. He bagged 317 goals in 301 appearances for Benfica and also notched 41 goals in 64 appearances for Portugal.
Luis Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo both took to Twitter to hail the achievements of the Benfica legend.
“The king! Great loss for all of us! The greatest!,” wrote Figo, who retired in 2009 with a national record of 127 caps to his name, while current Portugal captain Ronaldo wrote: “Always eternal #Eusebio, rest in peace.”
Football Association chairman Greg Dyke also paid his respects and compared the striker to modern-day equivalents Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
“Every generation has great footballers,”
“He was clearly a world-class footballer who scored an awful lot of goals. He had a level of natural talent that most players don’t have. He was the [Lionel Messi] or Ronaldo of his time.”
Real Madrid confirmed they will hold a minute’s silence at the Bernabeu ahead of tonight’s league clash with Celta Vigo and that their players will wear black armbands in respect of Eusebio.
Current and former professionals from across the globe continued to mourn the loss, with Chelsea striker Samuel Eto’o calling Eusebio an “exceptional man”.
“Africa, Portugal, the WORLD just experienced a great lost. Eusebio was not only a tremendous player..but also a exceptional man. RIP big bro,” he wrote on Twitter.