European Football - Benfica legend Coluna dies one month after Eusebio

Two-time European Cup winner Mario Coluna has died at the age of 78, a little more than a month after his Benfica and Portugal team mate Eusebio passed away, the Mozambican government and his former club announced on Tuesday.

European Football - Benfica legend Coluna dies one month after Eusebio

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Mario Coluna (Imago)

Similar to Eusebio, Coluna hailed from Mozambique but played for Portugal in the colonial days, the midfielder captaining the team to third place at the 1966 World Cup in England.

The cause of death was a pulmonary infection with the nation of his birth declaring a state funeral for one of African football’s most revered players.

Nicknamed 'Monstro Sagrado' (Sacred Monster), Coluna was born in Maputo, moved to Benfica in 1954 and was part of the Lisbon-based club's European Cup-winning sides of 1961 and 1962.

He won 10 Portuguese championships with Benfica, clocking up 525 games and scoring 127 times from his midfield position.

For Portugal, he was capped 57 times, and often described as the player who made the team tick while Eusebio's goal-scoring exploits stole the headlines.

Coluna also spent a year at French club Olympique Lyonnais before returning to Mozambique to become their national coach after it gained independence in 1975 and later the president of the country's football federation.

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