Jan 5, 2014, 11:45 AM EDT
With 11 Primeira Liga titles, a European Cup, a Ballon d’Or, and a Bronze Ball to his name, Portuguese soccer superstar Eusebio has passed away at the age of 71.
Most known for his time at Portuguese Primeira Liga giants Benfica, Eusebio scored an astonishing 317 league goals in just 304 appearances for the club.
He helped Benfica secure the 1962 European Cup, scoring the final two goals as they trumped a hat-trick from Real Madrid’s Ferenc Puskas to win 5-3
Eusebio also guided the Portuguese national team to third place at the 1966 World Cup, earning himself the Bronze Ball for being the competition’s top-scorer with nine goals. He got four in one match, one for the ages as Portugal found themselves 3-0 down only for Eusebio to singlehandedly rescue his country’s quarterfinal fortunes.
He bagged 41 international goals altogether in 64 appearances.
The East African-born striker, who began his life in severe poverty, was known as a pioneer for Africans in European soccer, with The Guardian’s Paul Hayward tabbing him as “Africa’s first great footballer.”
Eusebio’s biographer Jose Malheiro as well as Benfica confirmed his death, which was confirmed at 3:30am local time in Lisbon, Portugal. Malheiro noted the superstar’s health was “very poor” as he struggled with heart and respiratory problems.
The legend finished his career in the United States with a number of teams, including the New Jersey Americans, Boston Minutemen, Las Vegas Quicksilver, and Buffalo Stallions.
Stay tuned for more here on ProSoccerTalk as we cover his legacy as well as the reaction around the soccer world to his loss.
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