Eusébio Avenue marks one year since death of football legend

Eusébio Avenue marks one year since death of football legend

“Eusébio died” – this was the sad news that Portugal woke up to on January 5, 2014. The country was in mourning and the impact of the news could only be compared to that felt when Fado legend Amália Rodrigues died in 1999. But do legends ever really die?

“Eusébio marked many generations, so he will never die,” said Benfica president Luís Filipe Vieira.

His words came as Lisbon mayor António Costa cut the ribbon on the newly-named Avenida Eusébio Silva da Ferreira. Previously called Avenida General Norton de Matos, or better known as Segunda Circular, the avenue is the official address of Benfica’s Estádio da Luz.

The ceremony took place on Monday (January 5) to mark one year since Eusébio’s death (from heart failure) and was also attended by Eusébio’s family, Benfica footballers and supporters.

His daughter Carla Ferreira said: “We are grateful for this tribute. The dedication of the Portuguese people (to Eusébio) helped us overcome the suffering that his death caused us.”

Regarded as one of the greatest football players of all time, Eusébio da Silva Ferreira (aka ‘The Black Panther’) built up a legendary career in Benfica in the 60s and 70s, and was the first Portuguese footballer to win the Ballon d’Or – given to the best football player in Europe by a panel of sports journalists from UEFA member countries – in 1965.

Just last week, Eusébio had been remembered by CNN and FIFA.

The American news giant featured the footballer in its list of ‘Legends We Lost in 2014’, with a lengthy article – written by CNN’s Portuguese journalist Duarte Mendonça – reflecting on the effect that the death of the iconic striker had on the Portuguese people and how much he was mourned.

Mendonça stressed that although he never saw Eusébio play, the “real insight” came from generations before him through stories his parents and grandparents told him.

“Those stories still resonate until this day almost like fairy tales,” the journalist points out, telling of “the young kid who ended up travelling almost 5,000 miles to pursue his passion for soccer and ended up with a lot more than he bargained for”.

Eusébio was also remembered in a recent online article by football’s international governing body FIFA, which paid homage to the most notable footballers and coaches who passed away last year, including Real Madrid legend Alfredo Di Stefano and ‘La Liga’-winning Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova.

The Mozambique-born footballer arrived at Benfica in 1962, winning 11 Portuguese championships, five Portuguese cups and the European Cup. He is still the club’s all-time top scorer and tallied 41 goals in 64 matches for the Portuguese national team, having become the top marksman of the 1966 World Cup held in England with nine strikes.

Pantheon in 2019
Meanwhile, Eusébio’s remains may eventually be moved to the National Pantheon – the building where Portugal’s most important personalities are buried.

As sports newspaper Record pointed out, Portuguese law says that bodies can only be moved into the Pantheon five years after their date of death.

If all goes according to plan, Eusébio should be moved into the Pantheon by 2019.

Personalities buried there include some Presidents of the Republic, writers João de Deus, Almeida Garrett and Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen and fado singer Amália Rodrigues. Monuments have also been erected in honour of historical greats like Luís de Camões, Pedro Álvares Cabral, Afonso de Albuquerque, Nuno Álvares Pereira, Vasco da Gama and Henry the Navigator.

By MICHAEL BRUXO
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