Eusebio funeral: Thousands line streets to say farewell

  • 6 January 2014
  • From the section Europe

The funeral has taken place in Portugal of the football legend Eusebio after tens of thousands turned out to pay their last respects in Lisbon.

Eusebio died on Sunday of a heart attack aged 71.

He was laid to rest in wet weather at the Lumiar cemetery in the north of the city soon after nightfall.

Earlier, thousands lined Lisbon's streets as the funeral cortege passed on its way from Benfica's Luz stadium where cheering fans paid tribute.

Mourners applauded and held up flowers on seeing the coffin draped in the colours of Eusebio's club Benfica.

At the stadium, some 10,000 fans sang and let off firecrackers. The coffin was placed briefly on a golden plinth at the centre of the pitch before the hearse took it on a circuit of the stadium.

"For me, he is simply the creator of football," said 24-year-old fan Luis Marques.

One banner left at a statue of Eusebio read: "I haven't come to say goodbye, but to say thank you."

Tributes were also paid at a Mass held in the city's Seminary Church and attended by dignitaries including Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho.

Image caption An estimated 10,000 fans cheered, sang and let off firecrackers at Benfica's Luz Stadium
Image caption The football legend's coffin was placed on a golden plinth at the centre of the pitch
Image caption Mourners also gathered outside Lisbon's city hall where the hearse stopped
Image caption Eusebio was buried at Lumiar cemetery in a northern district of Lisbon

Portugal has declared three days of national mourning for Eusebio, who has been described as Portugal's first and greatest football superstar.

Born in Mozambique when it was still a Portuguese colony, Eusebio da Silva Ferreira went on to play 64 times for Portugal, scoring 41 goals.

The Benfica striker was top scorer at the 1966 World Cup in England, with nine goals, including four against North Korea.

Widely considered one of the best players of all time, he scored 733 times in 745 professional matches.

United by pride

When his death was announced on Sunday, celebrities from the world of football and beyond paid tribute to the player known in his day as the Black Panther.

"Football has lost a legend," Fifa President Sepp Blatter wrote on Twitter.

Portugal's President Anibal Cavaco Silva said: "Portugal has today lost one of its most beloved sons, Eusebio da Silva Ferreira. The country mourns his death."

Former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano said: "I have lost a friend. Portuguese football has lost one of its greatest idols. Football brought Mozambique and Portugal together, and everyone in Mozambique is proud of Eusebio."

Glittering record

Famed for his blistering acceleration and dribbling skills, Eusebio was named European Footballer of the Year in 1965.

He won the European Cup with Benfica in 1962 and was in the side that lost to Manchester United in the 1968 Wembley final.

In the 1966 World Cup, Eusebio's goals helped Portugal win all their group games as title holders Brazil were eliminated in the first round.

He then starred in a dramatic 5-3 win over North Korea in the quarter-finals, with his four goals helping his side come back from 3-0 down.

Portugal went on to lose 2-1 in the last four to England, with Eusebio in tears as he left the pitch at the end of the game.

Married with two daughters, in retirement he became an ambassador for Benfica and Portugal.

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