LISBON, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- Portugal's most renowned football star Eusebio died here Sunday morning at the age of 71.
Eusebio da Silva Ferreira, the former football player and international Portuguese ambassador for football died from a cardiac arrest, according to Portugual's Lusa News Agency.
The Mozambique-born Eusebio had been hospitalized several times since June 2012, when he suffered a cerebral vascular accident in Poland.
Eusebio was also known as the "Black panther", for his velocity, agility and technique which led him to be considered one of the best players of all times.
He was the top scorer at the World Cup finals in 1966, leading his team to the semi-final and scored over 700 competitive goals in his entire career. He won the Ballon d'Or in 1965 and helped Portugal finish third in the World Cup in England.
Playing for his longtime club Benfica, he won 11 league titles and the European Cup in 1962 and helped the club to three further European Cup finals.
Eusebio was born in Maputo, the Mozambican capital, when the country was still a Portuguese colony. He came from a poor family. In an interview with the Guardian he said he had learnt to play with "socks or newspaper rolled into a ball" before the first World Cup on African soil in 2010.
He played his last game for Benfica in 1975 after several knee operations before moving to America where he played for Boston Minutemen, Toronto Metros, Las Vegas Quicksilver and Buffalo Stallions. He retired in 1980 but continued as an assistant coach and travelled extensively as an ambassador.
Tributes are being spread across social networking sites, with Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo posting a picture on Facebook and Twitter of both together with the caption "Always eternal Eusebio rest in peace."
Manchester United posted a picture of the legend beside Sir Bobby Charlton, saying the legend was a "fantastic player and a friend of the club."
Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho in Chelsea Club told state broadcaster RTP that he was "immortal", adding "We all know what he meant for football and especially for Portuguese football."
Eusebio's biographer, Joao Malheiro, told state television channel RTP that he was "a witness to his health having become very fragile and there were clear signs of this in recent years."
"At the moment though this isn't the most important thing," he added. "What's most important is to remember the man who was, and always will be, in the place of the immortals of this country and was clearly of emblematic importance for Portuguese in the 20th century, above all during the 1960s when Portugal lived under a dictatorship."
Eusebio's body will be taken to the Luz stadium later on Sunday and Benfica fans will have the chance to pay their final respects.