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This week’s listening report looks back at the career of one of the all-time greats of world football, Eusébio, after the great Portuguese striker passed away recently. This listening report is a shortened version of the regular weekly podcast. You can listen to the report by clicking on the link above and you can read the transcript below with key vocabulary explained at the bottom of the post, while there is also a worksheet here
Football fans love to argue about who is the best player in the world. Currently the globe is divided into those that favour the Argentinian star Leo Messi and those who prefer Portugal’s Ronaldo but how do these players fare when compared to former greats of the game? Would they make the top 10 of all time? One thing that football fans would agree on is that there are a select few who would be guaranteed a place in the pantheon of footballing greats: Holland’s Johan Cruyff; Germany’s Beckenbauer, Brazilian superstar Pele, Russia’s keeper Lev Yashin, the Argentinian maestro Di Stefano and Portugal’s goal machine Eusébio.
Eusébio da Silva Ferreira was born in Mozambique in 1942 back when this African country was a Portuguese colony. So good was he as a young player that the two big Portuguese clubs, Sporting Lisbon and Benfica, fought over his signature with the 19 year old Eusébio eventually signing for Benfica. For the next 15 years he went on to play over 300 times in the league for ‘the Eagles’, averaging more than a goal a game (317 to be exact) while he has been credited with scoring over 700 goals in his career total – a real goal machine.
With Benfica, Eusébio won the Portuguese title a remarkable ten times and the domestic cup on five occasions. He also helped the Lisbon club to a European Cup triumph in 1962 when they defeated Real Madrid 5-3 with Eusébio scoring twice. He helped his team reach three more finals only to end up on the losing side on all three occasions: AC Milan in 1963, Inter Milan in 1965 and Manchester United in 1967. He was, however, named as European Footballer of the Year in 1965.
Eusébio, like many other African-born players at the time, represented Portugal and he went on to play 64 times for them scoring 41 times including nine in the 1966 World Cup. These included four in the quarter-final game against North Korea to help the Portuguese team come back from 3-0 down to win 5-3, as well as one in the semi-final defeat to England.
In the tributes that have appeared since his death it is clear that not only was Eusébio one of the greats during the time of Charlton, Pele and Di Stefano but can be viewed as one of the greatest ever players.
Football vocabulary and phrases used in this week’s listening report
how do these players fare: How do these players measure up; compare
a select few: Only a few; chosen ones
the pantheon of footballing greats: The top ranking of players; the canon, the best ever
fought over his signature: Wanted to sign him for their clubs
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