Portugal and Benfica mourn José Torres

The Portuguese game is honouring the memory of José Torres, the striker turned coach who represented Portugal at two FIFA World Cups and won nine league titles with SL Benfica.

José Torres (right) in action during the first of his three European Cup finals
José Torres (right) in action during the first of his three European Cup finals ©Getty Images

Portuguese football is mourning the death of former SL Benfica striker and national team coach José Torres who has died aged 71.

Torres coached his country at the 1986 FIFA World Cup and a minute's silence will be observed to mark his passing before tonight's UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier between Portugal and Cyprus in Guimaraes.

As a tall centre-forward nicknamed the 'Bom Gigante' (good giant), he won nine Portuguese Liga titles and six Portuguese Cups in 12 seasons with Benfica. His club achievements earned international recognition in the form of 34 Portugal caps, and the highlight of his national team career was helping the side to third place at their debut World Cup in 1966. He scored three of his 14 goals for the Selecção in England that summer.

Former Benfica midfielder and coach António Oliveira said in tribute: "Football is a poorer place for his loss. I had the privilege of knowing José as a player and as a man, and he was a massive figure for Benfica and the national team. He lived by the values he believed in."

Born on 8 September 1938 in Torres Novas, Torres joined Benfica at the age of 20 and went on to appear in three European Champion Clubs' Cup finals for the Lisbon outfit: in 1963 against AC Milan, 1965 versus FC Internazionale Milano and the 1968 encounter with Manchester United FC. The Eagles lost all three matches.

Torres finally hung up his boots in 1980, aged 42, having scored 217 goals in 384 games in club football. After Benfica, he had played for Vitória FC and GD Estoril-Praia. As a coach he later took charge of Setubal-based Vitória as well as Boavista FC, though perhaps his greatest feat in the dugout was leading Portugal to only their second World Cup finals. Indeed, Torres began that Mexico campaign of 1986 with a 1-0 win against the team that had ended his Portuguese side's adventure two decades before, England.

Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) president Dr Gilberto Madaíl said: "He was directly linked to two great moments in our national team's history, with his contribution in the 1966 World Cup and, later as coach, in taking Portugal to the 1986 finals."