When Portugal and SL Benfica legend Eusébio visited the uefa.com chatroom, he answered users' questions on his first steps in football, Cristiano Ronaldo and the 1962 European Champion Clubs' Cup final as well as taking the chance to dispel the myth of how he came to play for SL Benfica.
cardozito: What was your best goal?
Eusébio: There were many I scored and nearly all of them were good [smiles]. There was one I scored in 1965 against FC La Chaux-de-Fonds. I played a one-two with Simões and I chipped the ball over the defender and then over another defender without the ball touching the ground before volleying it first-time from the edge of the penalty area. After the ball hit the net, the goalkeeper actually came and shook my hand and told me he had no chance of saving such a shot. We won 5-1.
monteforte: How did you sign for Benfica? Was there a story you would sign for Sporting Clube de Portugal but Béla Guttmann played some tricks to get you to sign for the Reds?
Eusébio: It's all a lie. I don't know where that story comes from. It was my mother signing the contracts. I was 18 at the time. Benfica were offering a professional contract, but Sporting wanted me to go to a satellite club for a trial. So if Benfica were paying me, there was only going to be one option. When I arrived in Lisbon from Mozambique, and Benfica had paid my ticket and I travelled to Portugal with Benfica officials, a friend of mine who was playing for Sporting tried to convince me to go and play for them. What happened later was that someone around Sporting made up some sort of tale to cover their failure to sign me. They also alleged I had been kidnapped by Benfica, but all the club did was to take me down to the Algarve because I was feeling homesick in Lisbon.
mahmoud9: How did you start playing football?
Eusébio: I never thought I would ever be a great player. I played football as a child because I loved the sport. When I was 12, I was playing for a local club that had ties with Benfica, but the coach would not let me play because I was too skinny. This made me very sad and I was in tears as they just didn't give me a chance. The kids in the neighbourhood all said I was the best player, but it took me a while to convince the coaches I was worth giving an opportunity. There were two youth teams linked to Sporting and Benfica. But I was forced to play with Sporting and the first match came against Benfica and I scored a hat-trick against them. This resulted in the Benfica coach being sacked and soon after I returned to that team to play for them. The point was proven.
cardozito: How was it to deliver the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year award to Cristiano Ronaldo? Do you think he is prepared to be your successor?
Eusébio: I wouldn't say he could "fill my shoes" because at his age he has already proven he can be even better than me. I felt a lot of pride handing him the award, and knowing him like I do from an early age, I feel a lot of honour. The fact I like him as a person also made me happy as well.
monteforte: How do you rate Béla Guttman? What made him different from other coaches?
Eusébio: Everything. Béla Guttmann for me was the master technician and he meant everything to me. He was the coach who had the greatest influence on me. When I arrived in Lisbon, I had problems adapting to the cold weather as it was winter, but he always helped me out, he helped me to find my feet. I always had the feeling that he liked what I could do, right from the start and he gave me added encouragement to fit in and do my best. He was the one who also told my older team-mates to help me because he saw the potential I had.
cardozito: What are your memories of the 1962 European Cup victory with Benfica?
Eusébio: It was the moment which launched my career. To beat Real Madrid [CF] in the final and for me to score two goals after we had been losing, it was fantastic. That was the game that made me believe that I could be a world-class player, so I really started working hard to be the best I could be. I was only 19 when I played in that final.
nuno_jaws: What is stopping Portugal from finally winning a major tournament?
Eusébio: We have won at youth level before, but we have not been able to do it at the senior level. I was convinced we would win UEFA EURO 2004™ and that was our big chance, and that chance may have passed us by even though we will continue to try our best. In 1966, we nearly won the World Cup for the first time and we could have beaten England at Goodison Park because there we had already beaten Brazil and we had that magical win against the Koreans, but the English FA switched the semi-final to Wembley to suit the hosts and we paid a price. We were staying in a hotel in the centre of London before the match and this really disrupted us. I remember it so well and it still hurts that we could not win that title.
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