Lisbon, Jan 6 (IANS) Portugal declared three days of mourning for Portuguese football legend Eusebio, who died early Sunday due to a cardiac arrest, Xinhua reported Monday.
“The country is officially mourning his death,” President Anibal Cavaco Silva said. “The best way to pay tribute to Eusebio is by following his example, not only as an athlete but also as a human being.”
Eusebio was known as the “Black Panther”, for his velocity and technique. He was born in Maputo, the Mozambican capital, when the country was still a Portuguese colony and came from humble origins to later become one of the world’s top scorers.
He won the Ballon d’Or in 1965 and helped Portugal finish third in the World Cup in England. Playing for his longtime club Benfica, he won 11 league titles and the European Cup in 1962 and helped the club to three further European Cup finals.
After retiring, Eusebio was an assistant coach for Benfica and travelled as a soccer ambassador.
The country’s Football Federation and his former club Benfica also responded to his death and referred to him as an “eternal symbol”.
“Portugal is mourning. Eusebio, the King of Portugal’s 1966 team and the eternal symbol of the country, national team and Benfica passed away,” the statement read.
Eusebio’s body was taken to the Luz stadium later Sunday for fans to pay their last tributes. His body will remain at the stadium until Monday, according to local sports daily A Bola.
Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho recalled Eusebio in a statement as a “football genius, an excellent athlete and a generous and solidary,” adding, he was “an example of professionalism and determination”.
FIFA President Blatter said: “Football has lost a legend.”