Green light for Eusébio to be moved to National Pantheon

It was a unanimous decision in Parliament, and one that will certainly delight football fans across the country.

Portugal’s legendary football hero Eusébio da Silva Ferreira has been “granted the honour” of being buried in the National Pantheon – the Lisbon church where the country’s most renowned are laid to rest.

The decision followed a parliamentary motion, signed by all political parties, which stressed that Eusébio was a “national symbol, a selfless man, and an exceptional footballer and athlete” who played an important role in the “promotion and globalisation of Portugal’s image and importance in the world”.

“The decision to make him a national hero does not rest with Parliament, as it has already been made by the country,” Left Bloc parliamentary leader Pedro Filipe Soares said, following presentation of the motion.

Praise for the footballer came from all sides, with PSD MP Duarte Marques stressing he was a “symbol of fair play” and a “role model for Portuguese-speaking communities”.

Socialist MP Ramos Preto read a poem written especially for Eusébio by socialist politician and poet Manuel Alegre who considered him “a brilliant footballer and the biggest symbol of national sports”.

CDS-PP MP Telmo Correia cited a passage by Portuguese poet Luís de Camões to describe the footballer as “immortal”.

If all goes according to plan, the ‘Black Panther’ will be moved from his grave at the Lumiar cemetery to the pantheon in August.

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.

By MICHAEL BRUXO [email protected]