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Eusebio: The moments that defined a legend

Goal.com

He was the boy from Mozambique that became a Portugal legend and a global ambassador for the game of soccer.

Eusebio's career spanned 22 years and scaled the peaks of the game as the Benfica great transformed from one of Africa's thousands of young hopefuls to a genuine legend of the sport.

Goal takes a look back at the moments that defined Eusebio's career:

1960 - Signs for Benfica

Born in Mozambique in 1942, Eusebio began his career playing for Sporting Clube de Lourenco Marques based in the capital Maputo. At the age of 18, having already sealed a colonial championship medal, the player's prodigious talent sparked a tussle for his services between Lisbon rivals Benfica and Sporting. The fight for the young striker was so fierce that he was briefly forced to flee to the Algarve, amid fear of kidnap.

When the dust had settled it was Aguias coach Bela Guttman who emerged victorious and Eusebio began a glorious career with Benfica.

1961 - Debut for Portugal

With Mozambique a Portuguese colony, Eusebio was to represent the Selecao on the international stage. In October 1961 the new Benfica man made his first appearance for Portugal in a World cup qualifier against Luxembourg, netting in the 4-2 win. He would go on to score 41 times in 61 international appearances.

THE BLACK PEARL
Eusebio's career in numbers
727 His career goal tally from 715 games
1.02 Eusebio's goals-per-game ratio
64 Portugal goals record in 41 games
46 European Cup goals in 53 matches
17 The Black Pearl's major trophy haul
9 Major individual awards tally

1962 - European Cup winner

Eusebio played in four European Cup finals but 1962 saw him secure his only winners' medal. The 20-year-old scored twice in the final as his side overcame Real Madrid 5-3 in Amsterdam, the club's second triumph in as many years. He would go on to be a losing finalist against AC Milan (1963), Inter (1965) and Manchester United (1968).

1965 - European Player of the Year

The player known as the "Black Pearl" became the first Portuguese player (and the first Benfica player) to be awarded the Ballon d'Or, beating Inter's Giacinto Facchetti. The year of 1965 also saw Eusebio win one of his 11 Portuguese titles.

1966 - World Cup star

The 1966 World Cup was arguably the defining year of Eusebio's career. The striker wrote his name into history with his masterful performances, scoring nine times — including four against DPR Korea. His side was knocked out by winner England in the semifinals, with Eusebio famously leaving the pitch in tears after the 2-1 loss, but ended the campaign with a third-place finish.

"The 1966 World Cup was the high point of my career," Eusebio once said. "We may have lost the semifinal, but Portuguese football was a big winner."

1968 - European Golden Boot

Another brilliant year, including a European Cup final and another league win, saw Eusebio score 48 times and win the inaugural European Golden Boot award for the continent's leading scorer. He would again win the award for his 40 goals in the 1972-1973 season.

1975 - Leaves Benfica

After 638 goals in 614 official games for Benfica, Eusebio finally left Portugal after a glittering 15 years at the club. He still tops the all-time scoring charts at the Lisbon outfit and played out the majority of the rest of his career in North America, moving first to the Boston Minutemen.

1978 - Retires from soccer

Eusebio struggled with injury after joining the Las Vegas Quicksilvers in 1977, scoring only twice for the club. Knee problems forced the legendary striker to call an end to his career, although he did play five times for the Buffalo Stallions in the 1979-80 Major Indoor Soccer League season.

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