While the world mourns the sudden death of legendary Mozambique-born striker Eusebio da Silva Ferreira, 71, who netted an incredible 733 goals in 745 competitive matches, it’s important to mention his contribution to the local game.
Back in late 1977 and early 1978 during the dark days of apartheid, the 1965 European Footballer of the Year spent some time in SA donning the colours of a number of clubs.
His first port of call was the unfashionable NFL outfit Roodepoort Guild for whom he netted in a match against Hellenic at the Cecil Paine Ground, where 3 000 fans turned up to see the 35-year-old’s skills.
In 1978, the former Portuguese international star represented Lusitano and was on the field for Moroka Swallows, Troyeville and Cape Town City.The one time goal-scoring machine played a quiet midfield role for Swallows in a high-profile clash against Orlando Pirates. This time the crowd was better (20 000) with the game ending 0-0.
In the second half he was roughly tackled by the stocky Phil Venter who told Soccer-Laduma, “I was always a bit rough. But football is football and a man’s game. Eusebio was a great sportsman and after I’d brought him down, he came and put his arm around me.”
The man, who made a huge name for himself at the 1966 World Cup, was on the losing side when he ‘guested’ for Cape Town City against Cape Town Spurs. After the match he said to Peter Martin of Spurs “I should have played with you guys because you had the African skills.”
SA Soccer legend, Pepe dos Santos, a big friend of Eusebio, was the person that persuaded him to come to the country at a time when our soccer had different leagues according to race.
“I’m shocked, he was a legend, a real legend,” dos Santos told Soccer-Laduma. “I spoke to him about two weeks’ ago, always stayed at his house when I visit Portugal.
When I first went to fetch him, we had the NFL, NPSL and FPL but his presence helped towards a better future.”