Lisbon, July 4 (IANS) Portuguese football legend Eusebio’s coffin was transferred to the National Pantheon here as the nation paid its final tribute to him.
The ‘Black panther’, as he was known, was taken by a horse drawn carriage across main streets here on Friday up to the National Pantheon. He is the 12th Portuguese to be buried there, reports Xinhua.
The ceremony was attended by Portugal President Anibal Cavaco Silva, Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho, Parliament Speaker Assuncao Esteves and other senior officials as well as dignitaries from all walks of life.
“Eusebio is truly a national figure,” Silva said in his speech adding that the decision to take the football legend to the National Pantheon was a reason for “profound emotion”.
The country’s national anthem was played, interpreted by fado star Dulce Pontes and Portuguese musician Rui Veloso interpreted the songs “I never forgot you” and “Mother Africa”.
Eusebio died aged 71 at his home here last January 5 of cardiac arrest. The country declared three days of mourning and his body was taken to Luz Stadium and on a procession around downtown Lisbon, before thousands gathered at the cemetery in Lumiar where he was buried.
The Portuguese parliament approved the transfer of Eusebio to the National Pantheon alongside heroes like fado singer Amalia Rodrigues in February, following legal doubts as to whether his body could remain there before three years of his death had been completed.
Mozambique-born Eusebio scored over 700 competitive goals, was the top-scorer in the 1966 World Cup and was winner of the Ballon d’Or in 1965. Playing for his long time club Benfica, he won 11 league titles and the European Cup in 1962 and helped the club to three further European Cup finals.
Portuguese football team coach Fernando Santos referred to Eusebio as an “outstanding figure” who had taken the name of Portugal beyond borders.