Adeus, Pantera Negra.
January 5, 2014 2:52 AM   Subscribe

The Portuguese footballer Eusébio, considered one of the greatest of all time, died today. The first great footballer to come out of Africa, Eusébio was above all an humble man who would congratulate a keeper who had just made a difficult save and for whom the greatest joy after winning the European Cup (now named UEFA Champions League) was in getting to trade jerseys with his idol, Real Madrid's star di Stéfano. (The goals of the final.)

The Portuguese poet Manuel Alegre on Eusébio (in Portuguese); Eusébio's own poetry, writing what is arguably the best individual display ever in a World Cup: in one of 1966's quarter-finals, Portugal was down 0-3 and then Eusébio scored four consecutive goals, helping his country to overcome the Koreans 5-3. A longer video of the match and the two halves to ease the saudade; a life in pictures (in Portuguese).
posted by khonostrov (13 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Cada vez temos menos herois e mais falta deles. Descansa Eusébio... bem mereces.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 3:20 AM on January 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

posted by kinnakeet at 3:40 AM on January 5, 2014

Oh no.

posted by chavenet at 4:46 AM on January 5, 2014


One of the greatest footballers of his time.
posted by all the versus at 7:21 AM on January 5, 2014

"Eusébio. Long legs, dangling arms, sad eyes." Eduardo Galeano reading from his wonderful book Soccer in Sun and Shadow.
posted by stargell at 8:51 AM on January 5, 2014


And I'll stipulate, one of the greatest footballers of all time. On and off the pitch.
posted by Sphinx at 8:56 AM on January 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sometimes it can be hard to appreciate the greatness of old footballers, but even just a short, grainy clip of Eusébio makes it abundantly clear just how amazing he was.
posted by Kattullus at 8:59 AM on January 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Dammit, I have to post again.

Eusebio was one of those guys who had a 2000's athlete body in a 1950's world. Think Wilt Chamberlain dunking on 5'9" white guys from NYU.

I'm not really a big footy guy, but sometime during the last world cup I read a bit about that '66 World Cup and his scoring really stands out. It's like he was a proto Pele.
posted by Sphinx at 9:55 AM on January 5, 2014

A great player, and a great man. Godspeed, sir.
posted by Capt. Renault at 10:26 AM on January 5, 2014

Those defenders he's making look like fools would snap Cavani like a twig.
Those goals he hammered in were with a ball Messi would struggle to carry.

Eusebio may not have been as good a player as Pele or Maradona but he was a better man than both.
posted by fullerine at 12:12 PM on January 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

At the end of his career, he played his last games for the Buffalo Stallions, unremarkable for the most part, except maybe for me and my teenage friends who joyfully welcomed him to the War Memorial Auditorium from the cheap seats with the lamest, but perhaps most heartfelt, poster we could muster.
posted by Duck_Lips at 4:49 PM on January 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's like he was a proto Pele.

Eusebio may not have been as good a player as Pele or Maradona but he was a better man than both.

While I have no strong opinions on the relative merits of the men as men, except that I have secondhand knowledge that Eusebio was a marvelous gentleman even late in life (a close friend had the honor of refereeing a friendly between members of the Portugal '66 World Cup team, including Eusebio, and a Portuguese-majority football club in Connecticut a number of years ago), I don't think the other statements are really correct. For the first, Pele and Eusebio were very much contemporaries, born only two years apart and debuting / retiring within one to two years of each other. Pele's senior international career started a little earlier and of course includes more World Cup finals appearances, but their goalscoring records are fairly comparable.

As for the latter, I think people get very unfairly left out when the subject of "greatest footballer" comes around and the only names in the frame are Pele and Maradona, and Eusebio is one of the guys who deserves much, much more credit than that. I think he gets ignored because Portugal as a nation were not really World Cup material for some time; 1966 was their very first one and they wouldn't return to the finals until 1986, and then not until 2002. The modern strength of Portuguese football is a fairly recent phenomenon. Eusebio's dominance with Benfica is, in my mind, right up there with Pele for Santos or Maradona for Napoli. I think it's very arguable that he was as good as either of those more feted players.
posted by Errant at 7:29 PM on January 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

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