Our new “The Artists” collection will be launched on 15th February celebrating the exceptional skill and contribution of some of the greatest exponents of the beautiful game. There are 10 players honoured in this initial range and over the next few days our blogs will share some magical moments of artistry from each one of them.
Today we feature Eusébio
1. ‘Eusébio 3-2 Pelé’
A week Eusébio’s debut in which he scored a hat-trick, Benfica were invited to play in the Tornio International de Paris in 1961 and in the final they played against an exceptional Santos side, led by the ‘best in planet’ footballer Pelé. Within an hour, Benfica found themselves trailing by an insulting 5-0 scoreline, where Pelé struck twice. Benfica had to unleash his last weapon, codename Malosso, from the reserve. He was not mistaken. The 18-year old substitute scored a rapid hat-trick within 63rd to 80th minute of the match. He also won a penalty, which his teammate failed to convert. Benfica’s young team eventually lost the tie 6-3 to a star-studded Santos team, but the young prodigy won everybody’s heart on that day. Next day, prestigious French magazine L’Équipe made a headline neglecting the main scoreline and Santos’ victory which read as ‘Eusébio 3-2 Pelé’. Later, Pelé stated about Eusébio – “He scored beautiful goals. All of the Santos players, including myself, thought Eusébio was a great player even if none of us knew who he was at that time.” After this encounter, they met quite a few times, but this game truly announced that another black pearl has come to rule the world.
2. Taking On The Galácticos
In Eusébio’s first full season and the teenager had forced his way into the formidable side. At the end of the season a crowd of over 60,000 gathered in Amsterdam’s Olympic Stadium hoping to witness a clash of the titans at 1962 European Cup final between Real Madrid and Benfica. This was a game where Real was trying to re-establish their dominance on European kingdom, and reigning champions Benfica were establishing themselves as an unstoppable force in the Europian mainland. Eusébio was more mesmerized to play against his childhood hero – Alfredo Di Stéfano. The classic final started and soon Di Stéfano took over control of the midfield playing from the deep, while razor-sharp Ferenc Puskás kept threatening the Benfica defence continuously. Within 25 minutes, the Hungarian wizard put Madrid upfront with a two-goal lead. Though Benfica equalized the score, but again before half time, Puskás completed his hat-trick and gave Madrid back the lead. In the second half, Guttmann was able to shut down Madrid’s mastermind Di Stéfano’s elegance and that is when the ‘Black Panther’ took over control of the stage. Once Mário Coluna made it 3-3, Eusébio scored two goals within 5 minutes, and eventually, Benfica was the winner with a thumping 5-3 scoreline. But Eusébio didn’t forget his dream, he collected the shirt of the Argentine genius and kept it hidden underneath his shorts so that nobody can steal it from him – it was pretty precious to him. The scene was symbolic, as it depicted the passing of legacy from one legend to another. Eusébio definitely didn’t disappoint Di Stéfano!
Relive It: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0xIzCg2IyY
3. World Cup 1966
In England in 1966, Eusébio lit up the World Cup, outshining Pelé as the star of the tournament.
Eusébio scored twice in the 3-1 win over the reigning champions, Brazil, a game that set up the famous quarter-final with North Korea at Goodison Park. The underdogs were winning 3-0 until Eusébio almost single-handedly led the Portuguese recovery, scoring their first four goals in the eventual 5-3 victory.
In the semi-final, Portugal faced England at Wembley – though most English histories of the tournament gloss over the fact that this match had been scheduled for Goodison Park, where Portugal had already played twice and felt at home, until the English authorities connived to switch venues, forcing the Portuguese to catch a train to London the night before the match.
Eusébio was nullified by Nobby Stiles and England won 2-1, with Bobby Charlton scoring twice. Eusébio wept at the end of the game, and the occasion is still remembered as Jogo das Lágrimas (the Game of Tears) in Portugal. But even in defeat, Eusébio was the sensation of the World Cup.