SAFA pay respects to Eusebio

Danny Jordaan (Gallo Images)
Danny Jordaan (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - The South African Football Association (SAFA) has joined the world in mourning the passing away of Mozambican-born and Portugal international football great, Eusebio da Silva Ferrera who died of cardiac arrest on Sunday. He was 71.

"This is a massive loss for the game in the whole world.

"His exploits reverberated across the universe, especially after his 1966 showing where he helped Portugal to reach the semi-finals," said SAFA president Danny Jordaan.

Jordaan, who had a close relationship with the Portuguese forward during the 2010 World Cup hosted in South Africa, said Eusebio’s football achievements helped many African players to make it big in professional and international leagues.

"Most African players wanted to emulate this football hero’s footsteps.

"We have written to CAF requesting that during the opening CHAN game between Bafana Bafana and Mozambique on Saturday players wear black armbands in honor of this son of Africa and observe a minute of silence.

"That is a small way of remembering what this star did for the game," he added.

Eusebio, top scorer at the 1966 World Cup, was described in Portugal as an "eternal symbol" of the country’s football heritage.

The death of the charismatic striker, who was idolised throughout the Portuguese-speaking world and considered one of the game's greatest players was confirmed by former club Benfica and the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) on Sunday.

The Portuguese government declared three days of national mourning and many fans paid homage by visiting an iconic statue of him erected next to Benfica's Luz stadium, leaving flowers, scarves and other tributes.

Eusebio, whose full name was Eusebio da Silva Ferreira, was European Footballer of the Year in 1965 but won global acclaim a year later at the World Cup in England, where his nine goals helped Portugal reach the semi-finals.

He earned 64 caps and scored 41 goals for Portugal, records that stood for almost two decades.

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