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Soccer-Reaction to death of Portugal and Benfica great Eusebio

Reuters

LISBON, Jan 5 (Reuters) - The following is reaction to the death on Sunday of former Portugal and Benfica player Eusebio.

PORTUGAL CAPTAIN CRISTIANO RONALDO:

"Always eternal Eusebio, rest in peace."

CHELSEA'S PORTUGUESE COACH JOSE MOURINHO:

"He was one of the great figures of Portugal. I think he is immortal. We all know what he meant for football and especially for Portuguese football."

"He was not only a great inspiration but also an important figure in upholding the values, principles and feelings of football, even after finishing his career."

FIFA PRESIDENT SEPP BLATTER:

"Football has lost a legend but Eusebio's place among the greats will never be taken away."

FORMER PORTUGAL CAPTAIN LUIS FIGO:

"The king. What a huge loss for all of us. The greatest."

BENFICA COACH JORGE JESUS:

"He was humble and loved to work because only like that one can turn talent into becoming a great player."

"He was an idol who created all the grandeur of today's Benfica."

BENFICA AND PORTUGAL TEAM MATE TONI:

"I told him when he was alive much of what I felt... that it was a privilege to have played with him. We have lost one of the greatest figures of Portuguese sport."

"There were many princes in football but few kings. He is in the gallery of the greats. He was gifted both physically and technically."

BENFICA - CLUB STATEMENT:

"The news caught us by surprise brutally, because there are men who should never go away. The life of Eusebio is the patrimony of everyone who loves football."

PORTUGUESE FOOTBALL FEDERATION:

"Portugal is in mourning. Eusebio, the King of Portugal's 1966 team and the eternal symbol of the country, national team and Benfica passed away."

PORTUGAL PRESIDENT ANIBAL CAVACO SILVA:

"Portugal has lost one of its dearest sons...

"The country weeps at his death. The country is officially in mourning. The best way to pay homage to him, the way in which the 'Black Panther' himself would like to be paid homage would be to follow his example. Let us follow the example of Eusebio as an athlete and as a human being."

FORMER MOZAMBIQUE PRESIDENT JOAQUIM CHISSANO:

"I have lost a friend. We played together when we were young - we were almost family. The Mozambican people were proud of him. Through sports, he was one of our ambassadors".

BENFICA RIVALS PORTO IN A STATEMENT:

"Portuguese football is in mourning. One of the greatest symbols of the sport has died. The greatest Portuguese player of his generation and, above all, a great human being and example of fair-play. It's a sad day for Portuguese football."

FORMER ENGLAND GOALKEEPER GORDON BANKS WHO PLAYED AGAINST EUSEBIO AT THE 1966 WORLD CUP to The Sentinel in Stoke:

"He was a great, great player...

"He could hit it with the inside of his foot, the outside. It made me quite pessimistic when he was taking free kicks."

"He was a gentleman. A real nice guy and he shook my hand after the World Cup semi-final and wished us all the best."

FORMER MANCHESTER UNITED KEEPER ALEX STEPNEY to Manchester Evening News:

"I am honoured to have played against a man who was a true great. As a footballer he is up there with the best of his generation and any generation."

"It is very sad and we have lost a fantastic man. His scoring record was phenomenal. Don't forget he was doing that and hitting ferocious shots in an era where the ball was much harder, the boots not as good as they are now and on some poor pitches at times.

(Reporting By Daniel Alvarenga; Editing by Clare Lovell)

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