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Also The Black Pearl, Eusebio is regarded as one of the greatest strikers in the history of the game. Born in Lourenco Marques, Mozambique in 1942, he came to Portugal in 1961 and joined Benfica. In one of his first games, Eusebio scored a hat-trick against Pele's Santos. In what has been famously termed as the Night of the Long Shots, he netted twice against Real Madrid in the 1962 European Cup final for a 5-3 win. He was top-scorer six times in the Portuguese league and twice Golden Boot winner as topscorer in European football — 1968 and 1973. In 1965, he was European Player of the Year (Golden Ball winner). He really sparkled at the 1966 World Cup, scoring nine goals to become topscorer. He tore Brazil apart, scoring twice to eliminate the champions, and pumped in four goals against North Korea, who were leading 3-0 . It was to be his only World Cup. Eusebio headed to America to play in the North American Soccer League towards the end of his career.
Few sights in the World Cup are as memorable as a grinning 38-year-old's jig at the corner flag, after scoring. At Italia '90, Milla (right, celebrating with thatflag-pole dance after scoring against Colombia), sparked off a whole new goal-scoring celebration when he scored four times as Cameroon became the first African nation to make the quarterfinals of the tournament. He was actually an unpopular choice in the Cameroon squad for Italy. Hand-picked by the country's President Biya, Milla was a lastminute reinstatement answering the Presidential SOS from the Reunion Islands in the Indian Ocean where he was playing professional football. He was rewarded with the post of the country's sport's director on his return. Milla had honed his football in France in the 1970s. Milla, who changed his name from Miller to sound more African, is the oldest man to score in the World Cup. He was 42 when he scored against Russia at USA '94.
ABDEI 'PELE' :
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today cannot imagine taking the field without at least one African in the line-up . In the 1980s and early '90s, it wasn't like that though. One of the first African footballers to consistently figure in the starting XI back then was this immensely talented Ghanian. He did a lot in changing perceptions of the African footballer. At French side Olympique Marseille, 'Pele' lined up alongside top stars of the generation — Jean-Pierre Papin, Chris Waddle, Klaus Allofs, Enzo Francescoli, Didier Deschamps, Basile Boli, Marcel Desailly, Rudi Völler and Eric Cantona. Coached by Franz Beckenbauer, 'Pele' was star striker in the Marseille side that beat AC Milan to win the newlyexpanded European Cup — the new Champions League — in 1993. He is Ghana's top scorer with 33 goals.
Before Nigeria's watershed football gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, there was a former switchboard technician from Liberia playing a lone stellar role in the top clubs of Europe. Discovered by Arsene Wenger when he was manager of Monaco in 1988, George Weah (seen on left in picture, with Ronaldo) thereafter played for Paris Saint-Germain , AC Milan and Chelsea. Strong, fast and with great technical ability, in 1995 he was named FIFA World Player, European Footballer and African Footballer of the Year. He is revered as god in poverty-stricken Liberia, his palatial mansion and fleet of cars stand out in the heat and dust in the shanty townships of his land. Amid controversy, he ran for President in 2005, losing narrowly.
Before the coloured African brought speed, raw power and athleticism to football, there was Madjer (turning past Brazil's Alemao at Mexico '86 in picture). All silken skill, with a deceptively languid pace and wonderful passing, the Algerian legend ended a rich professional career with a spectacular stint at FC Porto in Portugal. He scored the equaliser in the win over Bayern Munich in the 1987 European Cup final. His most important goal came in Algeria's 2–1 shock win over Germany in the 1982 World Cup. The bestever Algerian side looked best placed to advance at the expense of the Germans; but in the final group fixture, Austria and Germany cravenly played out an 'understanding' , leaving the Africans out in the cold.
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