LISBON, Portugal – Eusebio, the Portuguese soccer star who was born into poverty in Africa but became an international sporting icon and was voted one of the 10 best players of all time, has died aged 71, his longtime club Benfica said.
Eusebio died of heart failure, his biographer, Jose Malheiro, said. Eusebio was hospitalized several times over the past year because of heart and respiratory problems.
Eusebio da Silva Ferreira became affectionately known as the Black Panther for his athletic prowess and clinical finishing that made him one of the world’s top scorers during his heyday in the 1960s for Benfica and the Portuguese national team.
Perhaps his biggest accomplishment was to lead Portugal to a third-place finish at the 1966 World Cup. His agility and speed made him one of Europe’s most dangerous forwards for most of a career that lasted two decades.
Eusebio was born in Mozambique, when the southeast African country was still a Portuguese colony.