Top 100 World Cup Moments (From the Aussie P.O.V.): 42-Portugal’s Black Pearl (1966)

Benfica's Eusebio da Silva Ferreira scores the first goal in the European Cup final against AC Milan at Wembley in May 1963. Milan won the match 2-1.

When Benfica coach Bela Guttman acted on a tip and flew down to Portuguese East Africa (now Mozambique) to check out a new striker he never would have thought he ended up signing one of the greatest strikers to ever play. Eusebio Da Silva Ferriera was only 19 when he moved to Portugal and immediately stunned Europe with a European Cup win in 1962 when he helped knock off the giants Real Madrid with two goals in a 5-3 win.

For Benfica he also scored more than a goal a game in the competitive Portuguese league (319 goals in 313 appearances) and was one of the top strikers in Europe with his ability to run hard, use skill and not have to rely on supply. When Portugal qualified for their first ever World Cup in 1966 it was time for Eusebio to shine on the world stage for his ‘mother’ country after being crowned European player of the year the year before. In the first round group stage he scored against Bulgaria and then he tore Brazil apart with a memorable performance scoring twice to eliminate the 1958 and 1962 champions as Portugal cruised through the group with three wins.

More success followed even though North Korea led 3-0 at one stage against Portugal in the quarterfinal, Eusebio scored four times to rescue his country in the 5-3 win and show just how much he would turn a game around single-handedly in not just at league level but on the big stage. Up next for Portgual were the hosts England and at Wembley Stadium where Bobby Charlton scored twice in either half to send England through, Eusebio scored a penalty in the final minutes. For Portugal their run was over and Eusebio was gutted and left the pitch in a flood of tears.

Still, he got over that pretty quickly and in the third place playoff scored again to help Portugal get bronze over Yashin and the Soviets, still Portugal’s greatest ever effort in a World Cup. Eusebio finished the tournament with nine goals, still the second best return for a top scorer in World Cup history. Unfortunately though this would be Eusebio’s only World Cup as in the next two campaigns Portugal failed to qualify.

This didn’t stop him from being Portugal’s record goal scorer (only being broken by Pauleta), winning 12 league titles, five cups and two European cups with Benfica. It’s a huge “if only” if he had made it to two more World Cups (records would have tumbled) but Eusebio’s nine goals in England in 1966 are definitely a memorable moment. Tragically Eusebio died from a heart attack earlier this year.

About Dennis Gedling

RTR FM Presenter. Glory Guerrillas Producer and Co-Host. Contributer to Football Nation Radio and Football West. Worships at the feet of the mighty Cats, Socceroos, Matildas, West Perth, Glory and Glasgow's Green and White most of the time.

Comments

  1. Peter_B says

    Loved this one Dennis. As a kid in the 60’s I used to get the English “Eagle” comics from the newsagent. They would arrive in bulk off the boat 3 months after they were published.
    Charlton, Best, Law, Moore and Banks were the weekly heroes – but 2 foreign names shone through – Pele and Eusebio. The names made them sound like magical swordsmen. Exalted company.
    English players were seen in black and white on Match of the Day on a Wednesday night, but I never saw the great European and South American players of the era.
    Keep the memories coming. Thanks Dennis.

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