Here at Rush Football, surprisingly enough, we like football. Therefore, in our latest (*ahem*) superb brainstorming meeting we have decided to take a look back at the footballing legends who have helped shape our much loved game – beginning with Eusebio…
Eusébio da Silva Ferreira
On 25 January 1942 in Lourenço Marques (present-day Maputo), the capital and largest city in Portuguese Mozambique, a footballing legend was born. Son of Laurindo António da Silva Ferreira, a white Angolan railroad worker and Elisa Anissabeni, a black Mozambican woman, Eusébio grew up in extreme poverty. Indeed, the poverty was so extreme that he used to skip school classes to play barefoot football with his friends on improvised pitches and using improvised footballs, which included socks stuffed with newspapers rolled into spheres. He first started to play for a local amateur team called Os Brasileiros (The Brazilians), in honour of the great Brazil national team of the 1950s which included players such as Pelé, Nilton Santos, Didi and Hilderaldo Bellini.
After being turned down by Grupo Desportivo de Lourenço de Marques, his favourite team and a Benfica feeder team, he then tried his luck with Sporting Clube de Lourenço Marques, where word of the prodigy soon spread beyond his home town. Eusébio was unbeknownst at the time, but former World Cup player Carlos Bauer was in deep conversation with his former club São Paulo, begging them to sign the unproven youngster after seeing him play in Lourenço Marques in 1960. São Paulo decided not to sign him, a decision they would later regret. Carlos Bauer didn’t give up and was determined to bring Eusébio’s talents to the world stage, and after speaking with Benfica coach Béla Guttman in a barber shop in Lisbon, (a conversation which took the Benfica coach all the way Mozambique to see for himself) he signed for the club for £7500.
The rest is history, Eusébio went on to score 319 goals in 313 league appearances (473 goals in 440 games in all competitions) helping Benfica win 11 Portuguese league championships and 5 domestic cup titles. On the personal side he was 7 times top scorer in the Portuguese league and twice Golden Boot winner as top scorer in European football – 1968 and 1973 – and in 1965 he was European Player of the Year (Ballon d’Or winner). In 1966 Portugal qualified for the World Cup for the first time, a tournament which he would finish as top goal scorer with 9 goals. In total, he appeared 64 times for the Portugal national side scoring 41 goals. Despite all the accolades he amazed throughout his career he epitomised the way the game should be played, with energy, precision, adventure, technique and, that rare quality, sportsmanship.
On 5 January 2014, Eusébio passed away in his home, aged 71. Following his death thousands of tributes from football icons around the globe poured in, with players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Figo, Franz Beckenbauer and Peter Schmeichel paying homage to the footballing legend. The Portguese government also declared 3 days of national mourning, with hundreds of thousands paying tribute to him. Outside of Estádio da Luz (Benfica’s stadium), a statue of the legendary player stands tall, he may be gone but he will never be forgotten.
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