The pearl of Mozambique – the hero of Portugal
The world knows the great football player only as Eusebio, but his full name is three times longer. When he was just starting to play, it never occurred to anyone to dignify the semi-literate Negro boy Eusebio and Silva Ferreira, all the more so as he began in the distant African wilderness. And since he broke into a very young football in great football, it was just Eusebio who remained for everyone.
Homeland Eusebio – Mozambique, a country on the African coast, lying opposite Madagascar. In the 18th century, these fertile sites became a colony of Portugal. This continued in the years of his youth, Eusebio, who was born in a poor family, where there were eight more sons besides him. However, in the middle of the 20th century, the Portuguese brought not only gold and ivory to the metropolis, but also talented black footballers whose game brought huge profits to the leading Portuguese clubs.
Benfica, Sporting, Porto in Mozambique and in another Portuguese colony, Angola, even had their own “branches” – football clubs that served them as original breeding farms. The “branch” of the Lisbon “Sporting” in the capital of Mozambique, Lourenç-Markis, was called “Sporting Lourenç-Markis”. It was Eusebio who showed his football skills almost from the cradle and hoped that it would help him to provide his numerous hungry family.
Everything went to the fact that he really soon will be in the capital of Portugal and will play in the “Sporting”. However, he ended up in another Lisbon club, which has always competed with Sporting. The story here happened almost detective.
In 1960, the Brazilian team Ferroviario, which made a commercial tour of Africa, also visited Mozambique, where it played with Sporting Lawrence-Markish. The game of young Eusebio made a great impression on the Brazilian coach. But he was not going to take him to Brazil – there was an oversupply of his own black talents. However, the team’s return journey was through Lisbon, where the coach visited his old friend, who was then coaching Benfica.
Eusebio4 In the words of the next, in 1961, “Sporting” actually caused Eusebio to watch, people from Benfica kidnapped a young African literally from the ramp of the plane that landed at the Lisbon airport. For a while, until the passions had subsided, the club hid it in a safe, secret place. Finally, he began training at Benfica.
That year, even before Eusebio, Benfica won the European Cup for the first time in its history, winning the final match of Barcelona – 3: 2. The core of the Lisbon club was made up of Africans with Portuguese names – goalkeeper Costa Pereira, center forward and team captain Jose Aguas, and two more attackers – Joaquin Santana and Mario Coluna.
But the greatest of all African footballers Benfica was destined to be Eusebio.
He came to the team, not only owning all the football skills, but also well-trained and physically diverse. Basketball, which he was fond of in addition to football, taught him to move plastic around the field without a ball. He was also keen on athletics and ran a hundred meters in 10.8 seconds.
One of the first matches of nineteen Eusebio immediately became legendary. At the “exhibition” tournament in Paris, “Benfica” met with “Santos”, where he played Pele himself. At first, Eusebio was in stock. After the first half, the Portuguese lost 0-3. Pele, as everyone expected, worked wonders.
In the second half, Eusebio entered the field and scored three goals against Santos for twenty minutes. True, in the end, “Santos” still snatched victory – 6: 3, but the game Eusebio hit the football world. In the fall of 1961, he was already invited to the Portuguese national team, although in the national championship he managed to play for Benfica only a dozen matches.
In the spring of 1962, Benfica reached the European Cup final again. The final match was held in Amsterdam, the opponent of the Portuguese was this time the magnificent Real Madrid. He won this tournament since 1956, five times in a row, and stumbled for the first time only in 1961. Such an impressive series of continuous victories in the European Cup (nowadays it is called the Champions League) has not yet been able to repeat any of the European teams.
The final was not easy for Benfica. On the field shone gorgeous masters of “Real”. The famous Hungarian Puskas scored three goals in this match against the Portuguese. But Benfica had Eusebio, time after time finding himself on the point of attack after brilliant individual passes. His inspirational game was supported by the whole team. The match ended with the score 5: 3 in favor of Benfica, Eusebio scored two goals.
In 1963, Benfica reached the European Cup final for the third time in a row. But failure followed: losing to Milan – 1: 2. The only ball of the Portuguese team nevertheless chalked up Eusebio. In 1965, he received the Golden Ball as the best football player in Europe.