Mozambique to mourn former footballer Mario Coluna

Mozambique to mourn former footballer Mario Coluna

23The Mozambican Council of Ministers has declared a national mourning Friday for former football player Mario Coluna, who died at the age of 78 in Maputo.

“Taking into consideration his valuable deeds for this country, the government in its extraordinary session of the Council of Ministers decided to declare national mourning Friday when the flags shall be hoist at half mast in the national territory and all embassies and consulates in different parts of the world,” the government spokesperson Henrique Banze said. According to Banze, the decision comes in recognition of the deeds of Coluna for Mozambique in and outside the country through sports.

Coluna, a midfielder, played alongside the late Eusebio Silva, in the Portuguese league for Benfica team and also for the Portuguese national squad, helping Benfica win the European Cup in 1961 and 1962 before captaining Portugal to third place in the 1966 World Cup in England.

Born in Inhaca, Mozambique Aug 6, 1935, Coluna began his football career in Maputo before joining in 1954 Benfica for whom he scored 150 goals in 677 games and helped the Lisbon giants to win two European Cups, 10 Portuguese league titles and seven domestic trophies between 1954 and 1970.

Unlike Portuguese soccer icon Eusebio who was also born in Mozambique and died in Portuguese capital Lisbon Jan 5 this year, Coluna decided to return to his home country close to the end of his career. Later he became Mozambique’s national team coach and president of the Mozambiquan Football Federation.

Benfica President Luis Filipe Vieira said in a statement on the club’s website that, “he was and will always be a football genius who magnified football and projected Sport Lisboa e Benfica to a global dimension”.

Coluna was admitted to Maputo’s Heart Institute for a pulmonary infection Saturday and he died Tuesday.

In Lisbon, Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva Wednesday lamented death of former Portuguese soccer star, calling him a “sportsman of exception”.

“The Portuguese people mourn the loss of one of the greatest sportsmen. He will always be remembered for his leadership qualities and his ambition to win,” Cavaco Silva said in his condolence message.

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