Eusebio was the top scorer at the 1966 finals. Allsport Hulton/Archive
Eusebio was Africa’s first great player. But although he was born and raised in Mozambique, it was in the red shirt of Portugal, the east African nation’s colonial master, and for Lisbon’s Benfica that the deadly striker made his name.
Nicknamed the “Black Panther” for his pace and athleticism, Eusebio had a cannonball shot and seemed capable of scoring from impossible angles. By the 1966 finals in England he had already won the European Cup with Benfica and was Europe’ reigning Footballer of the year.
In England Portugal was the attacking team of the tournament with Eusebio grabbing all the glory. He scored twice as reigning champion Brazil was dismissed 3-1 but Eusebio’s greatest performance came against North Korea in the quarterfinals.
The surprise of the competition, North Korea raced into a three-goal lead inside 22 minutes. But Eusebio scored the next four and Portugal advanced with an incredible 5-3 win.
Eusebio’s final two goals came from the penalty spot. The first came too late to threaten host England at Wembley while the second helped Portugal beat the Soviet Union 2-1 to claim third place.
Eusebio’s tears after Portugal’s 2-1 defeat by England captured British hearts and within days his waxwork was on display at London’s Madam Tussaud’s.