Portuguese salute, mourn soccer great Eusebio

By BARRY HATTON, Associated Press Updated at 2014-01-06 20:30:51 +0000

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LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Tens of thousands turned out in tribute Monday to Eusebio after the coffin of the Portuguese soccer great 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. 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 field.

The government declared three days of national mourning after Eusebio's death Sunday from heart failure at 71.

The funeral was attended by Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho and many soccer players, including former world player of the year and retired Portugal captain Luis Figo.

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 goal scorers and was widely regarded as one of the best players in the history of the game. He was affectionately known as the Black Panther for his physique and agility.

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.