Africa’s First “Real” Professional Footballer dies!
Though Pele (Edson Arantes Do nascimento) was supposed to be the Star for that particular FIFA world cup and Bobby Charlton with england were finally crowned winners,an African by Origin and Portuguese by adopted nationality, Eusebio(better known as the Black Panter) was the highlight and the most talked about star of the 1966 world cup held in England!
“Always Eternal,Eusebio Rest in peace” … Cristiano Ronaldo just minutes after the death of Eusebio was made official!
We woke up to the sad news on Sunday, the 5th of January to the passing away of Africa’s first real world wide star and Legend! he was 71 yrs old and just days from his 72nd Birthday anniversary!
I knew about Eusebio at a very young age from books whilst in school in Nigeria (in the 80’s) and had an impression that he must be a Giant in size! Rather a gentle and soft spoken, funny man, was the man that i met in 1997 in portugal and it was an experienvce to never forget and one that i will always cherish!
If you are less than 30 yrs old of age, you could be forgiven if you are not farmiliar with his exploits and a quick glance on Youtube should astound you as to how Phenomenal his game was.He was one of those who dominated world soccer headlines in the 60’s and the 70’s.
Critics believe that if Eusebio was born European or American for example, he would have been held in same esteem if not more as those of the “Regular” legends of his era and the game in general. But this soft and easy going phenomenom was always the first to acknowledge that those ascertions do not bother him at all and felt blessed to have been,just himself!
Bought at a tender age of 15 from Mozambique by Benfica (where his body was laid in state in the stadium for all to pay their last respects to) Eusebio became Portugal’s Historical best player ever,winner of the European player of the year award,that was however beforeCristiano Ronaldo came in to change all that!
He was one of the first players,ever, to score 4 goals in a world cup knockout stage match as he, in 1966,led portugal away from a sure defeat as they trailed behind to the then surprise team of the Competition,North Korea by 3-0,only for Eusebio to single handedly score four goals and get fouled for a fifth goal by Penalties! North Korea before that had kicked mighty Italy out of the world cup!
Eusebio was responsible for breaking the erroneous belief that Africans could not perform at the highest level or be elegant on the football pitch as footballers and not ball boys! Fast,technical,smart,full of forsight,scored goals with so much ease and struck the ball so hard like few in the world could back then.Note must be taken that those balls way back then weighed more or less one Kilo!
It will be impossible to make a credible shortlist of the best players, ever, without including Eusebio!
Eusebio scored over 700 goals in as much matches played.Most (over 600) for Benfica and rest for his adopted country.
After Eusebio’s exploits,Africans became a toast of world soccer and though he was portugues by Nationality and Mozambican by birth it opened the gates for the Exodus of African Footballers to the world.
Thanks to people like him African players,myself inclusive,had a precedence to follow and have food on our table today for us and our families!
As a human being it was near impossible to fault Eusebio! He was always polite,content,welcomed everyone with a smile,faithful to his club Benfica and though did not play in the Golden Era of high earning football,was Rich inside and an example for anyone to follow!
Join me in wishing a Peaceful rest to his Soul and a smooth passage into the land of our ancestors. Rest in Peace Black Panther and Thank You!