Farewell, Black Panther: Eusebio’s glittering career in video, pictures, and words
The game has lost one of its greats.
Eusebio, the pioneering Portuguese striker who ushered in a new era of power to the beautiful game, died of heart failure at his home on Sunday at the age of 71.
Current generations may know Eusebio primarily as an ambassador for the game — the man was a fixture at all manner of FIFA events, and was known throughout his career as one of the most gentlemanly players to grace a field. But even though he’s also known to be one of the greatest strikers ever, that title takes on a whole new meaning after you actually see what he was capable of doing. Nicknamed “The Black Panther,” Eusebio turned out to be the prototype for many of the finest players of today’s era — fast, powerful, and athletic to go with a healthy dose of grace and skill on the ball.
This beautiful-looking retrospective on Eusebio’s most famous moments at the 1966 World Cup shows some of that.
After Portugal’s elimination, Eusebio famously left the field in tears.
…after starting the day with breakfast in bed (Sorry, just had to find a way to get this bizarre picture from the morning of that semi-final in here somehow).
As much as on-field greatness, Eusebio also represented a fair amount of cultural change in the world of soccer. He was the first real superstar player to emerge from the African continent, though he played his international soccer for Portugal. The always excellent Soccer Politics blog has more on that here.
Some of that territory is also explored in this longer look back at his entire career from all angles, in his episode of the “Football’s Greatest” series:
If you’re looking for real wonky specifics on Eusebio’s style of play, there’s plenty of that around, too. Like, for example, this nice little highlight reel, including some sweet black-and-white footage from his days at Benfica (in his era, one of Europe’s most renowned and successful clubs):
And finally, for the ultra-nerdy, some wonderful soul has gone through and compiled this video of all Eusebio’s touches in the 1962 European Cup final, where he scored the final two goals to beat Real Madrid 5-3 and capture Benfica’s second title.
(That same person has done similar Eusebio compilations for his touches in the 1966 World Cup semifinal vs. England, Portugal’s wins over Bulgaria and Hungary in the group stage of that same tournament, and the 1968 European Cup final against Manchester United).
Rest in peace, Eusebio. The game will miss you.