Thousands turn out to mourn legend Eusebio

BARRY HATTON
Last updated 07:01 07/01/2014

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Tens of thousands of people turned out to pay tribute to Portuguese football star Eusebio after his coffin was put on public display and taken in a funeral cortege through the streets of Lisbon.

People filed out of offices and cafes on a rainy afternoon and applauded as the hearse with a police motorcycle escort passed by. Traffic was halted on the capital's main roads, and the cortege stopped for a ceremony at city hall.

Earlier in the day, dozens of dignitaries and hundreds of fans, some weeping, filed past the coffin at the Lisbon stadium of Benfica, Eusebio's longtime club.

Some 10,000 fans at the Stadium of Light cheered and sang when the coffin was placed in the center of the pitch.

The government decreed three days of national mourning after Eusebio's death Sunday from heart failure. He was 71.

Eusebio was an international star and national hero whose heyday was in the 1960s with Benfica and the Portuguese national team.

He became one of the world's top goalscorers and was widely regarded as one of the best players of all time. He was affectionately known as the Black Panther for his athletic physique and agility.

The funeral was attended by Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho and many football players, including former world player of the year and retired Portugal captain Luis Figo, as well as Eusebio's surviving family.

Eusebio was to be buried in a cemetery near Benfica's stadium. Authorities said they would consider moving him later to Lisbon's National Pantheon, which contains the tombs of illustrious figures from Portuguese history.

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- AP

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