FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter has sent a letter to the Portuguese Football Association to commemorate the birthday of legendary former Portugal and Benfica star Eusebio, who turned 70 on Wednesday 25 January.
“It’s often said that the game’s true greats would be able to perform in any era,” said Blatter. “Eusebio belongs to that select group and there’s no doubt that, if he were playing today, he’d be lining up alongside Cristiano Ronaldo at the World Cup or vying with Lionel Messi to be the best player in the Champions League.”
Nicknamed ‘The Black Panther’, Eusebio struck over 700 career goals, with his outrageous talent shining brightest for club and country during the 1960s. The spearhead of Portugal’s best ever FIFA World Cup™ finish - third place at England 1966 - the lethal front-runner fired nine goals at the showpiece event on English soil to take the competition’s Golden Boot.
Having first risen to prominence at Sporting Lourenco Marques in the country of his birth, Mozambique, Eusebio’s move to Benfica was the start of a 15-year association featuring 11 Portuguese titles and five Portuguese Cup triumphs. He also helped Os Encarnados reach the European Cup final on three occasions, including victory in the 1961/62 edition. Unsurprisingly, Eusebio is widely considered one of the greatest players of all time and remains a fine ambassador for the Portuguese game.
Eusebio was admitted to hospital for several days in early January 2012 after suffering from neck pains, though was given the all clear two weeks ago. “I’d like to offer him every encouragement for his recovery and wish him all the best for this new year in his life,” continued the FIFA President. “May he continue to do his club and his country proud and keep passing on his knowledge and experience to the players of the future for many years to come!”