Featured Matches
Previous
Aston Villa
Hull City
12:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Tottenham Hotspur
Liverpool
12:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Leicester City
Arsenal
3:00 PM GMT
Game Details
AC Milan
Lazio
4:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Villarreal
Barcelona
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Real Sociedad
Real Madrid
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Aston Villa
Hull City
12:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Tottenham Hotspur
Liverpool
12:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Leicester City
Arsenal
3:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Villarreal
Barcelona
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Deportivo La Coruña
Rayo Vallecano
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Real Sociedad
Real Madrid
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Elche
Granada
9:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Mainz
Hannover 96
1:30 PM GMT
Game Details
SC Freiburg
Borussia Monchengladbach
3:30 PM GMT
Game Details
AC Milan
Lazio
4:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Atalanta
Hellas Verona
4:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Cesena
Parma
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Genoa
Napoli
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Palermo
Sampdoria
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Sassuolo
Cagliari
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Torino
Internazionale
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Udinese
Empoli
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Bordeaux
Bastia
12:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Metz
Lyon
3:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Paris Saint-Germain
St Etienne
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Notts County
Bristol City
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Dundee
Celtic
11:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Llagostera
Leganes
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Real Betis
Numancia
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Sporting Gijon
Ponferradina
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Alavés
Recreativo Huelva
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Mallorca
Las Palmas
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
SV Sandhausen
FC Ingolstadt 04
11:30 AM GMT
Game Details
TSV 1860 Munich
SV Darmstadt 98
11:30 AM GMT
Game Details
TSV Eintracht Braunschweig
VfL Bochum
11:30 AM GMT
Game Details
PSV Eindhoven
Vitesse Arnhem
10:30 AM GMT
Game Details
FC Groningen
Ajax Amsterdam
12:30 PM GMT
Game Details
NAC Breda
PEC Zwolle
12:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Twente Enschede
Feyenoord Rotterdam
2:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Roda JC Kerkrade
MVV Maastricht
12:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Gil Vicente
Maritimo
3:00 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Penafiel
Paços de Ferreira
4:00 PM GMT
Game Details
CD Nacional de Madeira
Arouca
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Porto
Moreirense
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Benfica
Sporting Lisbon
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
CSKA Moscow
Rostov
9:30 AM GMT
Game Details
FK Rubin Kazan
FC Ufa
12:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Lokomotiv Moscow
Zenit St Petersburg
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Krasnodar
Dinamo Moscow
4:15 PM GMT
Game Details
Erciyesspor
Trabzonspor
3:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Sivasspor
Gaziantepspor
3:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Balikesirspor
Akhisar Belediye
Postp
Game Details
Caykur Rizespor
Genclerbirligi
Postp
Game Details
Fenerbahce
Karabukspor
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Asteras Tripoli
Levadiakos
4:15 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Xanthi
Kerkyra
4:15 PM GMT
Game Details
Niki Volos
Atromitos
4:15 PM GMT
Game Details
Platanias
PAOK Salonika
4:15 PM GMT
Game Details
Panathinaikos
Panionios
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Club Brugge
Anderlecht
12:30 PM GMT
Game Details
KSC Lokeren
Standard Liege
4:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Royal Charleroi SC
KV Mechelen
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Rapid Vienna
SV Grodig
2:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Silkeborg IF
AaB
11:00 AM GMT
Game Details
FC Midtjylland
Esbjerg
1:00 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Nordsjaelland
Brøndby
3:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Odense BK
FC Copenhagen
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
IFK
Kalmar FF
1:00 PM GMT
Game Details
IFK Norrkoping
AIK
1:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Djurgarden
Malmo FF
3:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Elfsborg
Falkenbergs FF
3:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Helsingborg
Halmstad
Postp
Game Details
Orebro SK
Brommapojkarna
Postp
Game Details
Lillestrom
Haugesund
1:30 PM GMT
Game Details
IK Start
Sogndal
4:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Stabaek
Sandnes Ulf
4:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Viking FK
Rosenborg
4:00 PM GMT
Game Details
SK Brann
Molde
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Grasshoppers
FC Vaduz
11:45 AM GMT
Game Details
St Gallen
FC Zürich
11:45 AM GMT
Game Details
FC Basel
Young Boys
2:00 PM GMT
Game Details
DC United
New York Red Bulls
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Chivas USA
Los Angeles Galaxy
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Toluca
Veracruz
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Guadalajara
Cruz Azul
10:00 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Edmonton
Minnesota United FC
8:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Belgrano de Córdoba
Atletico Rafaela
6:15 PM GMT
Game Details
Independiente
Racing Club
6:15 PM GMT
Game Details
Atletico Rafaela
Gimnasia La Plata
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Boca Juniors
Vélez Sarsfield
9:15 PM GMT
Game Details
San Lorenzo
River Plate
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Botafogo
Santos FC
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Corinthians
Fluminense FC
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Coritiba FBC
Atlético MG
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Figueirense FC
São Paulo
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Sport
Criciúma
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
EC Vitória
Flamengo
9:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Goiás EC
Atletico Paranaense
9:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Gremio
Bahia
9:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Universidad Católica
O'Higgins
4:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Universidad de Concepción
Unión La Calera
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Cobresal
Cobreloa
7:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Municipal Iquique
Barnechea
7:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Audax Italiano
Ñublense
10:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Atenas
Racing (U)
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Rampla Juniors
River Plate
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Rentistas
Sud América
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Wanderers
Danubio F.C.
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Cerro
Juventud
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Peñarol
Tacuarembó FC
9:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Envigado
Deportivo Pasto
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Deportivo Cali
Atlético Junior
8:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Deportes Tolima
Once Caldas
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Independiente Medellín
Aguilas Doradas
10:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Millonarios
Independiente Santa Fe
12:45 AM GMT
Game Details
Sporting Cristal
Los Caimanes
4:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Sport Huancayo
UTC
6:15 PM GMT
Game Details
León de Huánuco
Inti Gas Deportes
8:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Olimpia
Cerro Porteño
8:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Sportivo Luqueño
General Díaz
8:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Rubio Ñú
Deportivo Capiatá
10:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Guaraní
Libertad
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
El Nacional
Mushuc Runa
4:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Manta F.C.
U. Católica
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Club Deportivo Cuenca
Deportivo Quito
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Olmedo
Liga de Loja
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Barcelona
LDU Quito
9:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Independiente del Valle
Emelec
10:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Atlético Venezuela
Deportivo Anzoategui
8:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Deportivo Petare
Carabobo
8:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Estudiantes de Mérida
Deportivo Lara
8:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Llaneros
Tucanes
8:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Mineros
Caracas F.C.
Postp
Game Details
Portuguesa
Zulia
8:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Club Petrolero de Yacuiba
Nacional Potosí
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Sport Boys Warnes
Wilstermann
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Real Potosí
San José
7:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Universitario de Sucre
Bolívar
9:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Oriente Petrolero
Blooming
11:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Mamelodi Sundowns
Amazulu
1:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Silver Stars
Bloem Celtic
1:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Cartagines
Perez Zeledon
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Belen
Carmelita
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Universidad De Costa Rica
Limon
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Club Sport Uruguay
Saprissa
9:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Malacateco
Xelaju
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Suchitepequez
Petapa
5:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Coatepeque
Universidad de San Carlos
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Penarol
Municipal
Postp
Game Details
C.D.Real Sociedad
Vida
8:00 PM GMT
Game Details
CD Motagua
Olimpia
10:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Marathon
Real Espana
11:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Seattle Reign FC
FC Kansas City
ESPN2 7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Next
Manchester CityManchester City
Stoke CityStoke City
0
1
FT
Game Details
Newcastle UnitedNewcastle United
Crystal PalaceCrystal Palace
3
3
FT
Game Details
Jan 22, 2009

The pioneer of Portuguese football

In being recently awarded the prestigious Ballon D'Or, Cristiano Ronaldo became the third Portuguese footballer to be given this glittering prize by France Football magazine. Both he and the second, Luis Figo, now in his dotage at Inter Milan, owe plenty to the first winner from their country; a player who put their country on the footballing map.

Sunday sees Eusébio da Silva Ferreira celebrate his 67th birthday. He remains Portugal's favourite son, the player who took them to the brink of the World Cup Final in 1966 and gave a small nation belief in its ability to compete. At Benfica, he is revered as their greatest player, the man whose goals secured them a second European Cup and inspired them to unmatched domestic success. No-one ever shone brighter at the original Stadium of Light.

A constant presence whenever Portugal and Sport Lisboa e Benfica, to give them their full name, are on the international stage, he continues to be the public face of both. Until the arrival of Figo and Ronaldo on the scene, he was Portuguese football personified.

Not only that, he is often described as Africa's first great player. Born in Lourenço Marques (now Maputo) in Mozambique, Eusébio grew up in Portugal's East African colony, then legally as much a part of Portugal as Lisbon. Thus, when his teenage talents were discovered at local club Sporting Club de Lourenço Marques and he began to star in the old country's capital city, he could only play for Portugal. Mozambique's own national team did not even compete until after independence was granted in 1975. However, Eusébio's status as an African pioneer has been questioned by some as a result of his 50-year association with Portugal and his lack of public interest in African football.

Across Europe, in a less politically correct time when far fewer players of African origin were on view, he was known as "The Black Pearl" or alternatively, "The Black Panther". The second of those nicknames better describes his style of play. Speed, trickery, power and guile made him a player feared by defences across the world. Long lung-bursting runs and thunderous finishing often made him a one-man attack and, despite the close marking he faced throughout his career, he plundered an amazing 319 goals in 313 games for his club and 41 goals in 64 games for Portugal.

His arrival at Benfica came almost by chance. In 1961, Bela Guttman, the club's great Hungarian coach, struck up a conversation in his local barbershop. In the chair next to him happened to be the coach of touring Brazilian team Sao Paulo, who enthused about a young footballer he had seen while in Africa. An intrigued Guttman made some enquiries and stole the teenager from under the gaze of Sporting Lisbon, for who Eusébio's Mozambican club were a feeder set-up, even having to hide him in an Algarve fishing village until the coast was clear.

Whether Guttman liked his haircut or not is lost in the mists of time yet he had made the greatest discovery of a long and distinguished coaching career.

Eusébio's qualities can be measured by the fact that he soon broke into a team that were already European champions. And made them even better. The previous year, Guttman's team had broken the hearts of Barcelona in Berne to become the first team apart from Real Madrid to lift the European Cup and the final of 1962 made sure there were no quibbles over who was top dog after Benfica took on the Madrid side in Amsterdam.

A pulsating battle between the Iberian superpowers was level at 3-3 after fellow Mozambican Mario Coluna has equalised for the Portuguese club to peg back a Ferenc Puskas hat-trick. Eusébio, just 20, took destiny into his own grasp when a thrusting run from the halfway line could only be thwarted by Real's concession of a penalty. After, with typical politesse, asking Coluna's permission to take it, Eusébio powered in the spot-kick to give Benfica a 65th minute lead. Three minutes later, he powered in a free-kick from the edge of Real's box to return the trophy to Lisbon.

In beating the Real Madrid of Puskas and Di Stefano, Benfica ended an era of a great team's dominance. Eusébio's two goals heralded a new hero to succeed those two greats. Once announced on the scene, he would lead Benfica to unprecedented success, as they filled their trophy room with ten league titles and five domestic cups.

However, although Benfica continued to bestride the European stage they lost in three finals. In 1963, despite a Eusébio strike, they were defeated at Wembley by AC Milan. The following year they lost by a single goal when facing Inter in Milan. Back at Wembley in 1968 they lost 4-1 to Manchester United, but only after an Alex Stepney save had prevented a Eusébio rocket winning the game before it went to extra time.

Throughout the sixties he was often hailed as the second best player in the world behind Pele, a high accolade considering the legendary names of that decade. The 1966 World Cup cemented that reputation as he was taken to the hearts of English fans for a series of incendiary performances.

In the group stages he even threatened that pre-eminence of Pele when a thrilling brace at Goodison Park ended the reign of Brazil, champions in 1958 and 1962. The quarter-final saw a then-record four goals pull back his team from the abyss of defeat to see off a North Korea team who had been leading 3-0.

Wembley was again where his dream perished. The hosts, with Bobby Charlton needing to be at his best, were narrow 2-1 winners as England's defenders struggled to contain the power of Portugal's star. A typically converted 81st minute penalty saw Alf Ramsey's defenders suffer a torrid last ten minutes before the hosts could go through. Another penalty in a third-place play-off win over the USSR took his tournament tally to nine goals, landing him the Golden Shoe award.

Eusébio's tears at Wembley won him English affection and within weeks he had his own waxwork at Madame Tussauds. They also appreciated his sportsmanship after the next day's newspapers featured him pictured congratulating Bobby Charlton with an embrace. That good nature resurfaced two years later in the same stadium when he shook Stepney's hand after that save had denied Benfica another European Cup.

England in '66 would be his last appearance on the biggest stage as Portugal failed to qualify for the next two World Cups, his last international appearance coming in a 2-2 qualifying draw with Bulgaria in 1973.

The regrets of 1966 would rankle long after his retirement. England had been supposed to travel to Goodison for the semi-final until a FIFA decision to move the game to Wembley. Having won the hearts of the people of Merseyside and after being forced to travel to London on a train at short notice, Eusébio continues to resent a switch he felt gave the English too great an advantage. "Had we played in Liverpool, like we were supposed to, we would have won that game and reached the final. There is no question about it," he has said.

Regrets, he may have a few. Yet this affable man, who retired from football in 1978 after a period playing in American soccer's NASL, continues to be a fine ambassador for his club, country and the game itself.

Twice winner of Europe's Golden Boot (in 1968 and 1973), he served Benfica for a glorious 15 years, scoring 46 goals in Europe for them and winning his Ballon D'Or in 1965. Good as they have been, and in the younger man's case, might be in the future, Figo and Ronaldo should only look and admire the achievements of their country's greatest ever player, a true pioneer.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.