Lisbon, January 6, 2014 – The funeral of football legend Eusebio is to take place in the Portuguese capital Lisbon, after his death at 71.
Mourners will pay their respects as Eusebio’s coffin is carried around the Luz stadium, before a Mass and burial.
Portugal has declared three days of national mourning for the footballer, who died on Sunday from a heart attack.
Born in Mozambique when it was still a Portuguese colony, Eusebio da Silva Ferreira went on to play 64 times for Portugal, scoring 41 goals.
The Benfica striker was top scorer at the 1966 World Cup in England, with nine goals, including four against North Korea.
Widely considered one of the best players of all time, he scored 733 times in 745 professional matches.
United by pride
He had been admitted to hospital several times over the past year for the treatment of heart and respiratory problems.
Luminaries from the world of football and beyond paid tribute to the player known in his day as the Black Panther.
“Football has lost a legend,” Fifa President Sepp Blatter wrote on Twitter.
Portugal’s President Anibal Cavaco Silva said: “Portugal has today lost one of its most beloved sons, Eusebio da Silva Ferreira. The country mourns his death.”
The former president of Mozambique, Joaquim Chissano, said: “I have lost a friend… Portuguese football has lost one of its greatest idols. Football brought Mozambique and Portugal together, and everyone in Mozambique is proud of Eusebio.”
Fans draped flags and football scarves at the statue of Eusebio that stands outside the Luz stadium – or Stadium of Light – in Lisbon on Sunday evening and again on Monday.
The stadium, opened in 2003, replaced the 120,000-seat Stadium of Light where Eusebio dazzled for Benfica, helping them to numerous honours.
Eusebio’s casket was due to be taken on a funeral procession around Lisbon before a funeral service late on Monday afternoon.
“For me, he is simply the creator of football,” said 24-year-old fan Luis Marques.
One banner left by the Eusebio statue read: “I haven’t come to say goodbye, but to say thank you.”
Famed for his blistering acceleration and dribbling skills, Eusebio was named European Footballer of the Year in 1965.
He won the European Cup with Benfica in 1962 and was in the side that lost to Manchester United in the 1968 Wembley final.