Soccer-Former Portugal and Benfica striker Eusebio

Reuters

LISBON, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Factbox on former Portugal and Benfica all-time best player Eusebio da Silva Ferreira who died on Sunday aged 71.

EARLY PLAYING DAYS

* Born Jan. 25, 1942 in Mozambique's capital Maputo, then under Portuguese colonial rule and called Lourenco Marques.

* He used to play barefoot in the streets of Maputo with a ball of rags.

* Known alternatively as the "black panther" or "the king" he started playing in Mozambique's Sporting de Lourenco Marques and was hired by Benfica in 1960.

PLAYING STYLE

* Gifted with a devastating shot that he unleashed with both his right and left foot, Eusebio fused power with tremendous pace, sense of opportunity up front and an effective dribble.

* Athletically strong, he crafted explosive runs down the flanks and was never afraid to shoot from long distance.

* While often being closely marked and singled out, he always remained cordial, low key and polite

BENFICA

* Eusebio was a teenager when he left Lourenco Marques for Lisbon and his career will forever be linked with Benfica. He is the biggest name in the club's 109-year history and assumed an almost mythical status. A statue outside the Luz stadium is a reminder of his impact.

* Scored a hat-trick in 20 minutes against World Club champions Santos in 1961 after coming from the bench. "Who is that guy who came in and scored a hat-trick? He is going to be some player," Brazil great Pele said at the time.

* Arrived at the club after Benfica had won the European Cup for the first time, beating Barcelona in 1961.

* He started playing for Benfica in 1961 and stayed for almost 15 years.

* Won 11 championships with Benfica and five domestic cups.

* Eusebio was awarded France Football's Golden Boot twice, in 1968 and 1973 and won the Ballon d'or for the best European player in 1965.

* Led Benfica to four European Cup finals and won Europe's top club title in 1962, scoring twice in a 5-3 defeat of Real Madrid in Amsterdam.

* The last final he reached with Benfica was in 1968 when they lost in extra time to Manchester United at Wembley.

* A statue depicting Eusebio executing one of his trademark shots was carved in his honour and placed just outside the Luz stadium in 1994.

PORTUGAL'S 1966 RUN TO SEMIS

* Earned 64 international caps and 41 goals, including an emotional Wembley appearance against England when Portugal lost in the semi-finals of the 1966 World Cup, where he was top scorer with nine goals.

* In the group phase Eusebio's Portugal eased to wins against Hungary and Bulgaria and then beat reigning world champions Brazil 3-1 as Eusebio got the best of Pele and scored twice.

FINAL PLAYING DAYS

* Ended his career in Portugal playing for Beira Mar and Uniao de Tomar between 1976 and 1977.

* Eusebio had several stints away from Portugal, particularly in the United States, where he played for the Rhode Island Oceaneers, Boston Minutemen, Las Vegas Quick Silvers and New Jersey. He also played for Canada's Toronto Metros and Mexico's Monterrey.

POST-CAREER

* Portugal's dictator Antonio Salazar did not allow him to make a big-money move to Italy and Eusebio spent the final part of his career abroad, after Portugal's chaotic transition to democracy in 1974.

* Assumed the role of assistant coach and later as an advisor and lifelong ambassador to Benfica. (Reporting By Daniel Alvarenga; editing by Martyn Herman)

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