Eusébio da Silva Ferreira, GCIH, GCM (born January 25th, 1942), popularly known simply as Eusébio, is a Portuguese former football forward of Mozambican origin. He helped the Portugal national team reach third place at the 1966 World Cup, being the top goalscorer of the tournament, and was elected the European Footballer of the Year in 1965. He played at the club Benfica for 16 years, and is the team's all-time top scorer.
Nicknamed "The Black Panther", or "The Black Pearl", Eusébio was notable for his speed and his powerful, accurate right-footed strike. He is considered Benfica's and Portugal's most renowned player and the first world-class African striker. He was elected the 9th best footballer of the 20th century in a poll by the IFFHS. Pelé named Eusébio as one of the 125 best living footballers in his 2004 FIFA 100 list. In November 2003, to celebrate UEFA's Jubilee, he was selected as the Golden Player of Portugal by the Portuguese Football Federation as their most outstanding player of the past 50 years.
Eusébio was born in Lourenço Marques (now Maputo), Mozambique. He moved to Portugal in his late teens, and in 1961, Eusébio joined Benfica as a 19 year old from his local club, Sporting Club of Lourenço Marques, for £7500.
In 1962, he won the European Cup, scoring two goals in the final against Ferenc Puskás' and Alfredo Di Stéfano's Real Madrid CF. Benfica won 5-3.
He was the 1965 European Footballer of the Year and in 1968 was the first winner of the Golden Boot Award, as Europe's leading scorer, a feat he repeated five years later. The Portuguese First Division's top scorer seven times from 1964 to 1973, he helped Benfica to 11 league championships and 5 cup wins. He scored 727 goals in 715 matches wearing Benfica's jersey, including 317 goals in 301 Portuguese league matches.
In 1976/77 and 1977/78, Eusébio played for two minor Portuguese teams, SC Beira-Mar, in I Division, and União de Tomar, in the II Division.
He also played in the North American Soccer League, for three different teams, from 1975 to 1977: Boston Minutemen (1975), Toronto Metros-Croatia (1976) and Las Vegas Quicksilver (1977). His most successful season in the NASL was in 1976 with the Toronto Metros. He scored in their 3-0 victory at the 76 Soccer Bowl to win the NASL title. The same year, he played ten games for CF Monterrey in the Mexican league.
The following season (1977) he signed for the Las Vegas Quicksilvers. This was to be a very disappointing end to Eusébio's glorious career. By this time injuries had taken their toll on the Black Panther, and he was constantly receiving medical treatment whilst playing for the Quicksilvers. During the season he only managed to score 2 goals, a poor return for a striker of his calibre. At the end of the 1977 season Eusébio's knees finally "called it a day" and he later returned to Portugal. However, some sources state that Eusébio did play some games for the "New Jersey Americans" of the American Soccer League II during their 1978 campaign.
Eusébio was the all-time leading scorer for his country, with 41 goals (in 64 matches), until forward Pauleta surpassed his record against Latvia on October 12, 2005. He made his debut for the Portuguese national team against Luxembourg, in 19 October 1961, a match his country lost 2-4.
He was the leading scorer in the 1966 World Cup where he scored nine goals, including four against North Korea in quarterfinals, a match in which Portugal came back to win 5-3 after trailing 0-3. In the semi-final match against England, Eusebio scored Portugal's only goal on a penalty in the 82nd minute. Though the English defense was great, Portuguese supporters continue to remember the game for the unusually high number of disallowed goals. Eusebio alone was said to have had 4 goals called back by the offside flag.
In addition to winning the Golden Boot award for the 1966 World Cup, Eusebio also set a record that year for the most penalties scored (not in shoot-out) with 4. Eusebio's 4 goals against North Korea in the quarter-final match also helped Portugal tie the record for largest deficit overcome in a win (3 goals, tying Austria 1954). The English were so impressed by Eusebio's performances that he was immediately added to the Madame Tussauds collection of waxwork. Eusebio however never played in another World Cup finals tournament, though he took part in the 1970 and 1974 qualifiers. His last game for the National Team was a 2-2 draw with Bulgaria on October 19, 1973 in a World Cup qualifier.
Despite being retired, Eusébio is a constant presence among the Portuguese national team where the players see him as a sort of inspiration and source of moral support.