Legends: Eusebio (Portugal)

To help mark UEFA’s Jubilee, each national association was asked to nominate its most outstanding player of the past 50 years. UEFA EURO 2008 finalists Portugal selected the Eusébio da Silva Ferreira.

His debut with his club SL Benfica side, against Santos FC in Paris, was quite a memorable where he struck a hattrick playing agains the likes of Pele. Despite the goals, Benfica still lost,” he recalled.

An exceptional man, Eusebio’s modest and considerate nature is still apparent today. “When I arrived at Benfica, I was in awe of José Águas, Mário Coluna, Germano de Figueiredo and José Augusto.”

The seniors soon realised that with Eusebio in their ranks they were destined for glory. And it was after Benfica’s second consecutive European Cup success (Eusebio’s first) — against Madrid in May 1962 — that defender Fernando Cruz passed the famous comment: “Eusebio is the ace in our pack.” Eusebio’s reputation as an exemplary sportsman and world-class talent is global.

Described by Portuguese dictator António de Oliveira Salazar as a national treasure, the

‘Black Panther’ scored over 400 goals for Benfica. After five knee operations the Lisbon club somewhat unceremoniously brought his career with them to an end, although good relations were later restored.

He is the only figure in Portuguese football who receives a tumultuous welcome wherever he goes, both at home and abroad, and is still revered the world over. And to fellow internationals Luís Figo and Rui Costa, as well as millions of ordinary people, he is known quite simply as ‘The King’.