The death of Eusebio on Sunday has robbed the football world of one of its greatest idols. Born in Mozambique, the Black Panther enjoyed an outstanding career, becoming Benfica’s leading all-time goalscorer and playing an inspirational part in Portugal’s third place finish at the 1966 FIFA World Cup England™.
An ambassador for Benfica and FIFA, the legendary striker died at the age of 71 as a result of heart failure, a sad loss that prompted many warm tributes to one of the game’s true greats. FIFA.com rounds up just some of the heartfelt reactions to his death.
“Football has lost a legend. Eusebio will always have a place among the very best. He was an ambassador of the game and of FIFA, and we will miss him. Rest in peace Black Panther,” FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter.
“Today football has lost one of its greatest players of all time. On the pitch Eusebio was a true legend, representing Portugal and Benfica. Off it he was a true global ambassador of Portuguese football. He was more than just a player though. A good and gentle person, Eusebio will be fondly remembered,” UEFA President Michel Platini.
“Portugal has lost one of its most dearly beloved sons, Eusebio da Silva Ferreira. As well as being a huge footballing idol, he was a humble person who shone off the pitch as well. He made millions of people happy. On behalf of all of Portugal, so long Eusebio,” Portugal President Anibal Cavaco Silva.
"He was a football genius, an example of humility, an excellent athlete, a generous and supportive man. He was for all the fans an example of professionalism, determination and dedication," Portugal Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho
“Eusebio was a unique figure in Portuguese football and will never be forgotten. He may have passed away but he will never leave us. He will be with us at the World Cup in Brazil and will be supporting the national team in spirit,” Portuguese Football Association President Fernando Gomes.
"Without doubt, Eusebio was one of the finest players I ever had the privilege to play against. Not only that, he was a true sportsman, as he proved in applauding Alex Stepney for his save in the European Cup final. I feel proud to have been both an opponent and friend and am saddened to hear of his passing. My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time," Manchester United and England great Sir Bobby Charlton
“Always eternal Eusebio. May he rest in peace,” Cristiano Ronaldo on Facebook.
"You'll be forever in our hearts Eusebio. Rest in peace legend," Nani on Twitter.
“The King! Massive loss for us all! The greatest!” former Portugal international Luis Figo on Twitter.
“He was one of Portugal’s greatest figures and he means so much to the country and its people. Eusebio and Amalia (a popular singer) are Portugal’s great lords. I still see them as such. To me they are immortal,” Chelsea’s Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho.
“In my opinion Eusebio will always be the greatest player of all time,” ex-Real Madrid star Alfredo Di Stefano.
"He's a figure who has contributed to the deep and rich history of Mozambique. Eusebio came here from time to time. He always maintained a link with Mozambique. He's a very well known and respected figure in our country," Mozambique President Armando Gebuza.
“I have lost a friend. When we were young we played games and football together. He was almost family to me. Portuguese football has lost one of its greatest idols. Football brought Mozambique and Portugal together, and everyone in Mozambique is proud of Eusebio,” former Mozambique president Joaquim Chissano.
“Eusebio was like a son to me. I’ll always be biased when it comes to talking about him. I welcomed him with open arms in Portugal when he left Mozambique. I was responsible for bringing him to Benfica and for him reaching the top in Portuguese football. I feel very, very sad. May God bless his soul,” former Benfica and Portugal player Coluna.
“He always listened to me and we were very close. He was a colleague, a friend and an exceptional player, and he had a lot of human qualities that many people didn’t see. The country has lost an outstanding figure and I have lost a friend and a brother,” Antonio Simoes, who played alongside Eusebio for Benfica and Portugal.
“Football has lost one of its all-time greats. My friend Eusebio died tonight and my thoughts are with his family,” German football legend Franz Beckenbauer.
“I never had the pleasure of watching him play but I did have the honour of meeting him and seeing how special he was off the pitch too. May God be with you, friend,” former Benfica player and current Brazil international David Luiz.
“What sad news. The football world has lost a star and an exceptional person who was cherished by fans of all clubs. May he rest in peace,” Benfica captain and Brazil international Luisao.
"Every generation has great footballers. He was clearly a world-class footballer who scored an awful lot of goals. He had a level of natural talent that most players don't have. He was the (Lionel Messi) or Ronaldo of his time," Football Association chairman Greg Dyke.