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Ferenc Puskás

Ferenc Puskás (April 2, 1927–November 17, 2006), also referred to as Puskás Ferenc (surname first in Hungarian) or Puskás Öcsi (Hungarian), or Ferenc Puskas Biro (Spanish), was a Hungarian football forward and coach. He is considered one of the best footballers ever, and is one of the most effective goal scorers of all time in terms of goals to matches played ratio, having scored 83 goals in 84 career international matches for the Hungarian national team, and 511 goals in 533 matches in the Hungarian and Spanish leagues.

Puskás played for Honvéd and Hungary before joining Real Madrid and going on to play for Spain. During the 1950s, he was captain of the legendary Hungarian team known as the Mighty Magyars. After the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, he moved to Spain where he became part of the legendary Real Madrid team that also included Alfredo Di Stéfano, Francisco Gento, Raymond Kopa and José Santamaria.


Puskás, with a powerful left-foot shot, was a prolific goalscorer throughout his career; he was top scorer in the Hungarian League on four occasions and in 1948 he was the top goal scorer in any European league. While playing with Real Madrid he won four Pichichis and scored seven goals in two European Cup finals. In 1995 he was recognized as the top scorer of the 20th century by the IFFHS.[3][4][5]

On November 17, 2006, Ferenc Puskás died at the age of 79, leaving his wife, Erzsébet, and his daughter Anikó.

Playing career in Hungary

Early years

Puskás was born Ferenc Purczeld in the neighbourhood of Kispest, Budapest. He was ten years old when his father, himself a central defender for Kispest, changed the family name to Puskás.[6] Puskás began his career as a junior with Kispest AC where his father was a coach. Legend has it that he played under the pseudonym Miklós Kovács before officially signing as a twelve year old. Among his early teammates was his childhood friend and future "Golden Team" teammate József Bozsik. He made his first senior appearance for Kispest in November 1943, in a match against Nagyvárad.[7]

The "Galloping Major"

In 1949, Kispest was taken over by the Hungarian Ministry of Defence, becoming the Hungarian Army team and changing name to Honvéd. As a result football players were given military ranks. Puskás eventually became a major, which led to the nickname "The Galloping Major". As the army club Honvéd were also allowed to conscript the best Hungarian players which led to the them recruiting Zoltán Czibor and Sándor Kocsis. During his career at Honvéd, Puskás helped the club win five Hungarian League titles. He also finished as top goal scorer in the league in 1947/48, 1949/50, 1950 and 1953, scoring 50, 31, 25 and 27 goals respectively. In 1948 he was also the top goal scorer in any European league.

Hungary national team - the "Magic Magyars"

Puskás made his debut for the Hungary national team on August 20, 1945 and scored in a 5-2 win over Austria. He went onto play 85 games and scored 84 times for Hungary. His international goal record included two hat tricks against Austria, one against Luxembourg and 4 goals in a 12-0 win over Albania. Together with Zoltán Czibor, Sándor Kocsis, József Bozsik and Nándor Hidegkuti, he formed the nucleus of the legendary team that went unbeaten for an incredible 32 consecutive games. This record still stands today.

During this run they became Olympic Champions in 1952, beating Yugoslavia 2-0 in the final in Helsinki. Puskás scored four times at the Olympic tournament including the opening goal in the final. They also twice gave England a footballing lesson. In 1953 they stunned England with a 6-3 win at Wembley Stadium, and thus becoming the first continental European team to defeat the English national team on home soil. At their next meeting in 1954 the Magyars gave England a 7-1 hammering in Budapest. Puskás scored two goals in each game against England. In 1953 they also won the Dr. Gerő Cup, a nations cup for Central European teams. The tournament began in 1948 and took five years to complete. Hungary eventually emerged top of the table with 11 points. Puskás finished the tournament as top scorer with 10 goals and scored twice as Hungary claimed the trophy with a 3-0 win over Italy in Rome in 1953.

1954 World Cup

Puskás scored three goals in the two first-round matches Hungary played in the 1954 World Cup, which Hungary won by large margins; 9-0 against South Korea and 8-3 against West Germany. Puskás suffered an ankle injury in the match against the Germans, and missed the next two matches against Brazil (the "Battle of Berne") and Uruguay, both much more difficult matches that Hungary managed to win.

Puskás played the entire 1954 World Cup final against West Germany, although he was not fully fit. Despite this, he scored his fourth goal of the tournament to put his team ahead after only 6 minutes, and with Czibor adding another goal two minutes later, it seemed destined that the pre-tournament favourites would take the title. However, the West Germans pulled back two goals before half time and the tide began to turn. The second half saw telling misses from the Hungarian team and then with six minutes left the West Germans scored the winner. Puskás then had a goal disallowed two minutes from the end of the match. Hungary lost 3-2, and its record unbeaten run ended.

Honvéd world tour

In 1956 Honvéd entered the European Cup and in the first round they were drawn against Atlético Bilbao. Honvéd lost the away leg 2-3, but before the home leg could be played, the Hungarian Revolution had erupted back in Budapest. The players decided against going back to Hungary and arranged for the return with Atlético to be played at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels. Puskás scored in the subsequent 3-3 draw but Honvéd went out 6-5 on aggregate. Elimination left the players in limbo. The players summoned their families from Budapest and, despite opposition from FIFA and the Hungarian football authorities, they organised a fundraising tour of Italy, Portugal, Spain and Brazil. After returning to Europe, the players parted ways. Some, including Bozsik, returned to Hungary while others, including Czibor, Kocsis and Puskás, found new clubs in Western Europe.

Playing career in Spain

After refusing to return to Hungary, Puskás initially played a few unofficial games for RCD Espańol but then received a two-year ban from UEFA which prevented him from playing in Europe. He moved to Austria and then Italy, where both AC Milan and Juventus attempted to sign him. However in 1958 he joined Real Madrid and at the age of 31 he embarked on the second phase of his remarkable career.

Real Madrid

During his first La Liga season, 1958/59, Puskás scored four hat-tricks including one in his second game against Sporting de Gijón on September 21 1958. In January 1959 Puskás and Alfredo Di Stéfano ran riot against UD Las Palmas, both of them scoring hat-tricks in a 10-1 win. During the 1960/61 season, he scored 4 times in a game against Elche and the following season he scored 5 goals against the same team. In 1963 he scored two hat-tricks against CF Barcelona, one at the Bernabéu and one at the Camp Nou. During eight seasons with Real, Puskás played 180 La Liga games, scoring 156 goals. He scored 20 or more goals in each of his first six seasons in the Spanish league, and won the Pichichi four times: in 1960, 1961, 1963 and 1964, scoring 26, 27, 26 and 20 goals respectively. He helped Real win La Liga five times in a row between 1961 and 1965 and the Copa del Generalísimo in 1962. He scored both goals in the 2-1 victory over Sevilla CF in the Copa final.

Puskás also played a further 39 games for Real in the European Cup, scoring 35 goals. He helped Real reach the final of the 1959 European Cup, scoring in each of the two legs of the semi-final against Atlético Madrid, but missed the final due to injury. However, the following season he would make up for it. He began Real's 1960 European Cup campaign with a hat-trick against Jeunesse Esch and in semi-final against CF Barcelona, he once again guided Real into the final with three goals over two legs. In the final itself, regarded by some as one the greatest finals ever, Puskás and Di Stéfano once again ran riot. Real beat Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3 with Puskás scoring four goals and Di Stéfano scoring three. In subsequent European campaigns he would score a further three hat-tricks including one in the 1962 final against Benfica which Real lost 5-3.

Spain national team

In 1962, Puskás took Spanish citizenship,[8] and subsequently played four times for Spain, representing them at the 1962 World Cup. For once his goalscoring form deserted him and he failed to score any goals for Spain.

Coaching career

After retiring as a player, Puskás became a coach. Starting in 1967, he managed multiple teams; among those were Hércules Alicante, San Francisco Golden Gate Gales, Vancouver Royals and Deportivo Alavés.

In 1969, he signed for Panathinaikos FC, and in 1971 the Greek champions, who had many talented footballers in their squad, reached, under Puskás' management, the European Cup final, which is still the greatest achievement for any Greek football club. During his five-year tenure at the club, he secured two Greek Championships and his contributions to the success of the team made Puskas very popular among Panathinaikos fans, who still consider him the best coach the club has ever had. In 1974, Ferenc left Panathinaikos and moved to Real Murcia.

Puskás then moved to Chile, to coach Chile's most popular football club Colo-Colo. In 1976, Puskás had his first national team coaching experience in Saudi Arabia. After a one year stint, Puskás was back in Greece, this time helping, as a manager, AEK to win its seventh Greek championship, even though he did not coach the team in the second half of the season. In 1979, he moved to Egypt and coached one of the Egyptian Premier League clubs, Al-Masry. In 1985, he went back to South America to coach Paraguayan teams Sol de América and Cerro Porteńo.

After constantly moving through clubs and country teams each year, going through a total of seven clubs, Puskás finally established himself in Australia and managed South Melbourne Hellas, with whom he won the National Soccer League title in 1991. After three years in Australia, he finally returned to Hungary to manage the national team. He spent a year in charge of the Hungarian team before his final retirement from football.

Later life

In 1993, Puskás was pardoned by the Hungarian government and returned home to take temporary charge of the national team.[9] In 2002 the Népstadion in Budapest was renamed the Stadion Puskás Ferenc in his honour. He was also declared the best Hungarian player of the last 50 years by the Hungarian Football Federation in the UEFA Jubilee Awards in November 2003[10]. Puskás, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2000,[11] was admitted to intensive care in a Budapest hospital on September 13, 2006[12] and died on November 17, 2006[11] from pneumonia. He is survived by his wife, Erzsébet, whom he married in 1949,[13] and by their daughter, Anikó.[14][15]


  • Puskás was a fan of Arsenal F.C. whom he began supporting as a child [2].
  • In 1998 he became one of the first ever FIFA/SOS Charity ambassadors.


Olympic medal record
Gold 1952 Helsinki Men's Football



  • Olympic Champions: 1
    • 1952
  • Dr. Gerő Cup Winners: 1
    • 1948/53


  • Hungarian League: 5
    • 1949-50, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1955

Real Madrid

  • Spanish Championship: 5
    • 1960/61, 1961/62, 1962/63, 1963/64, 1964/65
  • Pichichi Trophy Winner: 4
    • 1959/60, 1960/61, 1962/63, 1963/64
  • European Cup: 3
    • 1958/59, 1959/60, 1965/66
  • Intercontinental Cup: 1
    • 1960
  • Copa del Generalísimo: 1
    • 1961/62



  • Greek Championship: 2
    • 1970/71, 1971/72
  • European Cup: 1
    • Runner-up: 1971

South Melbourne Hellas

  • Australian Champions: 1
    • 1990/91


  • "I was with (Bobby) Charlton, (Denis) Law and Puskás, we were coaching in a football academy in Australia. The youngsters we were coaching did not respect him including making fun of his weight and age...We decided to let the guys challenge a coach to hit the crossbar 10 times in a row, obviously they picked the old fat one. Law asked the kids how many they thought the old fat coach would get out of ten. Most said less than five. Best said ten. The old fat coach stepped up and hit nine in a row. For the tenth shot he scooped the ball in the air, bounced it off both shoulders and his head, then flicked it over with his heel and cannoned the ball off the crossbar on the volley. They all stood in silence then one kid asked who he was, I replied, To you, his name is Mr. Puskás."– George Best[16]
  • "Look at that little fat chap. We’ll murder this lot." – An unidentified, overconfident English player upon seeing Puskás before their 1953 encounter.[17]
  • "Of all of us, he was the best. He had a seventh sense for soccer. If there were 1,000 solutions, he would pick the 1001st." – Nándor Hidegkuti[18]
  • "Puskás scared the hell out of goalkeepers from the 30-35 metre range. He did not just have a powerful shot, but precision as well. I thought he was a genius." – Raymond Kopa[19]
  • "The man was a supertalent. I have lost a friend and quality player. That's how Puskás was as a person and a football player. He was one of the greatest players of all time but life, my friend, when you least expect it comes to an end." – Alfredo Di Stéfano[20]
  • "There is not one Hungarian who would be left untouched by the death of Ferenc Puskás. The best-known Hungarian of the 20th century has left... Ferenc Puskás has left us, but "Puskás Öcsi" the legend will always stay with us."– Ferenc Gyurcsány, Prime Minister of Hungary[20]
  • "He got along with everyone and had a very jovial character that helped him play with a striking amount of joy and calmness. He had a great shot and he could accelerate very quickly, ... all-around skilled and above all explosive."– Luis Suarez[21]
  • "Although he was a famous footballer he seemed very normal compared to today's modern stars. He lived in a modest flat below ours and was very generous. He often brought home footballs from training for the kids in the block to play with." – Olalla Maranon, A former Neighbour In Madrid[20]

References and Notes

Wiki Source


Ferenc Puskás, simply the best ever! And ... he never felt he was a star, just a plain human being

The Major, The King

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