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Ferenc Puskás ( ; born Ferenc Purczeld Biró; 1 April 1927 – 17 November 2006) was a Hungarian footballer and manager who is regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time. He scored a remarkable 84 goals in 85 international matches for Hungary, and 514 goals in 529 matches in the Hungarian and Spanish leagues. He was voted one of the greatest players of the 20th century by World Soccer magazine.

Puskás started his career in Hungary playing for Kispest and Budapest Honvéd. He was top scorer in the Hungarian League on four occasions, and in 1948, he was the top goal scorer in Europe. During the 1950s, he was both a prominent member and captain of the legendary Hungarian national team, known as the Mighty Magyars. In 1958, two years after the Hungarian Revolution, he emigrated to Spainmarker where he played for the legendary Real Madrid team that also included Alfredo di Stéfano, Francisco Gento, Raymond Kopa, Héctor Rial, and José Santamaría and went on to play for Spain.

While playing with Real Madrid, Puskás won four Pichichis and scored seven goals in two European Champions Cup finals. In 1995, he was recognized as the top scorer of the 20th century by the IFFHS.

After retiring as a player, he became a coach. The highlight of his coaching career came in 1971 when he guided Panathinaikos to the European Cup final, where they lost 2–0 to AFC Ajax. Despite his defection in 1956, Puskás remained an admired hero in Hungary. In 1993, the Hungarian government granted him a full pardon, allowing to return and take temporary charge of the Hungarian national team. In 1998, he became one of the first ever FIFA/SOS Charity ambassadors. In 2002, the Népstadion in Budapest was renamed the Puskás Ferenc Stadionmarker in his honor. 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. In October 2009, FIFA announced the introduction of the FIFA Puskás Award, awarded to the player who has scored the "most beautiful goal" over the past year. The inaugural Puskás Award will be presented on December 21, 2009 at the FIFA World Player Gala.

Career in Hungary

Early years

Puskás was born Ferenc Purczeld in Budapestmarker and brought up in Kispestmarker, then a village near the city. Today, Kispest is a district in Budapest. He was ten years old when his father Ferenc Sr. changed the family name to Puskás. He began his career as a junior with Kispest AC, where his father, who had previously played for the club, was a coach. He initially used the pseudonym Miklós Kovács to help circumvent the minimum age rules before officially signing at the age of 12. Among his early teammates was his childhood friend and future international teammate József Bozsik. He made his first senior appearance for Kispest in November 1943 in a match against Nagyváradi AC.

Kispest was taken over by the Hungarian Ministry of Defence in 1949, becoming the Hungarian Army team and changing its name to Budapest 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 used conscription to acquire the best Hungarian players, leading to the recruitment of Zoltán Czibor and Sándor Kocsis. During his career at Budapest 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 the top goal scorer in Europe.

Mighty Magyars

Puskás made his debut for Hungary team on 20 August 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 four 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 a then world record 32 consecutive games. During this run, they became Olympic Champions in 1952, beating Yugoslavia 2–0 in the final in Helsinkimarker. 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 and became the first non-UKmarker team to defeat the English national team at Wembley Stadiummarker. At their next meeting in 1954, the Magyars defeated England 7–1 in Budapest, which, to this day, remains England's heaviest ever defeat in international football. Puskás scored two goals in each game against England. This footballing exhibition was in part due to the early style of football strikingly similar to the "total football" displayed by the Dutch teams of 20 years later. This in stark comparison to the rigid system employed by the English team. In 1953, they also became Central European Champions. Hungary won the championship after finishing 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 at the Stadio Olimpicomarker in 1953.

Puskás scored three goals in the two first-round matches Hungary played at the 1954 FIFA World Cup. They defeated South Korea 9–0 and then West Germany 8–3. In the latter game, he suffered an ankle injury after a tackle by Werner Liebrich and did not return until the final. Despite not playing, Puskás became embroiled in controversy during the infamous quarter-final encounter with Brazil, dubbed the Battle of Berne. After the game finished, Puskás, a spectator, allegedly struck Pinheiro, a Brazilian player, with a bottle. The bottle gave Pinheiro a three-inch cut. Other reports blame another spectator and not Puskás.

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 Hungary ahead after six minutes, and with Czibor adding another goal two minutes later, it seemed destined that the pre-tournament favorites 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. Two minutes from the end of the match, Puskás scored an equalizer but, in a controversial call, the goal was disallowed due to an offside call. Hungary lost 3–2, its record unbeaten run ended.

Honvéd World Tour

Budapest Honvéd entered the European Cup in 1956 and were drawn against Atlético Bilbao in the first round. Honvéd lost the away leg 2–3, but before the home leg could be played, the Hungarian Revolution erupted in Budapest. The players decided against going back to Hungary and arranged for the return with Atlético to be played at Heysel Stadiummarker in Brusselsmarker, Belgiummarker. Puskás scored in the subsequent 3–3 draw but Honvéd were eliminated 6–5 on aggregate, and the Hungarian players were left in limbo. They summoned their families from Budapest, and despite opposition from FIFAmarker and the Hungarian football authorities, they organised a fundraising tour of Italymarker, Portugalmarker, Spainmarker, and Brazilmarker. 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.

Spanish career

Real Madrid

After refusing to return to Hungary, Puskás initially played a few unofficial games for RCD Espanyol . At the same time, both AC Milan and Juventus attempted to sign him, but then he received a two-year ban from UEFA which prevented him from playing in Europe. He moved to Austriamarker and then Italy. After his ban, Puskás tried to play in Italy but was not able to find a top-flight club willing to sign him, as Italian managers were concerned about his age and weight. He was considered by Manchester United to strengthen a squad ravaged by the Munich Air Disastermarker in 1958, but because of The FA rules regarding foreigners and Puskás' not knowing the English language, stand-in manager Jimmy Murphy could not fulfil his wish of signing the Hungarian. However, a few months later, Puskás joined Real Madrid and at the age of 31 embarked on the second phase of his career.

During his first La Liga season, Puskás scored four hat-tricks, including one in his second game, against Sporting de Gijón on 21 September 1958. In the game against UD Las Palmas on 4 January 1959, Puskás and Alfredo di Stéfano scored hat-tricks in a 10–1 win. During the 1960–61 season, Puskás scored four times in a game against Elche CF and the following season, he scored five goals against the same team. Puskás scored two hat-tricks against FC Barcelona in 1963, one at the Bernabéumarker and one at the Camp Noumarker. During eight seasons with Real, Puskás played 180 La Liga games and scored 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 FC 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 the first leg and in the decisive replay of the semi-final against Atlético Madrid, but missed the final due to injury. However, in 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 the 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. In 1965, he scored five goals over two games against Feyenoord as he helped a new generation of Real Madrid players win the 1966 European Cup.

Spanish national appearances

In 1962, Puskás took Spanish nationality, and subsequently played four times for Spain. Three of these games were 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 and managed teams in Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia.

The highlight of his coaching career came in 1971 when he guided Panathinaikos of Greecemarker to the European Cup final, the only time a Greek club has reached a European final to date. After beating Everton in the quarter-finals on away goals, Panathinaikos then pulled off the shock of the competition with a dramatic comeback in their semi-final against Red Star Belgrade. 4–1 down after the away first-leg, they won the return home second-leg 3–0 to qualify for the final on away goals.

The final saw Puskás return to Wembley Stadiummarker. Panathinaikos had some memorable chances to score, but eventually lost 2–0 to Johan Cruyff's Ajax. During his five-year tenure at Panathinaikos, Puskás helped the team secure two Greek Championships and his success with the team made him a cult figure among Panathinaikos fans. With the notable exception of his spell at Panathinaikos, Puskás failed to transfer his success as a player to his coaching career.

Despite his wide travels, his only other success came with South Melbourne Hellas, with whom he won the National Soccer League title in 1991.

When Wolverhampton Wanderers opened their new stadium Molineux in 1993, Puskás visited the newly opened stadium as an honorary guest to watch the friendly match between Wolves and Budapest Honvéd, which was a match to christen the new opening of the stadium. This was because in the 1950s, Wolves played a game against Honvéd in a memorable friendly match, which Puskás played in. Wolves won the match 3–2.

Later life and death

Puskás was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2000. He was admitted to a Budapest hospital in September 2006 and died on 17 November 2006 of pneumonia. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Erzsébet, and their daughter, Anikó. In a state funeral, his coffin was moved from Puskás Ferenc Stadionmarker to Heroes' Squaremarker for a military salute. He was laid to rest under the dome of the St Stephen's Basilicamarker in Budapest on 9 December 2006.

A street named Újtemető utca near Stadium Bozsik in the Hungarian capital of Budapest (specifically the district of Kispest) was renamed after Puskás precisely one year after the footballer's death.





  • Central European International Cup: Top Scorer (10 Goals): 1954
  • Hungarian Top Goalscorer: 1947–48, 1949–50, 1950, 1953
  • World Soccer Player and European Player of the Year: 1953
  • Winner Player European of the century XX L'Equipe
  • Winner Player Hungarian of the century XX
  • Winner Player Hungarian Top Goalscorer of the century XX
  • Silver Ball European Footballer of the Year France Football : 1960
  • Named in FIFA 100
  • European Cup Top Scorer (12 goals)(7 goals): 1960, 1964
  • Pichichi Trophy: 1959–60, 1960–61, 1962–63, 1963–64


Career statistics

See also


  1. [1]However, he claimed the 2nd of April as his birthday to avoid possible taunts for being born on Fools' Day, since 2004 it is clear, that he was born on the 1st of April
  2. Puskás's Hungary career is often said to be 83 goals in 84 games. The extra game and goal here is from a match vs Lebanon that was played in 1956, however it was only recognised as an official game by the Hungarian FA in May 2002 [2]
  3. FIFA introduces new FIFA Puskás Award to honour the "goal of the year" , FIFA, October 20, 2009.
  4. The World Cup: The Complete History by Terry Crouch. 2006.
  5. Behind the Curtain: Football in Eastern Europe by Jonathan Wilson. 2006.
  6. Web Oficial de la Liga de Fútbol Profesional
  7. 50 Years of the European Cup and Champions League by Keir Radnedge. 2005.


  • Behind the Curtain — Travels in Eastern European Football: Jonathan Wilson (2006) [29592]
  • The World Cup — The Complete History: Terry Crouch (2002) [29593]
  • 50 Years of the European Cup and Champions League: Keir Radnedge (2005) [29594]
  • Obituary in The Guardian by Brian Glanville, November 18, 2006

External links

1943–44 Kispest National Championship I 18 7
1944 14 7
1945 20 10
1945–46 33 35
1946–47 30 32
1947–48 32 50
1948–49 30 46
1949–50 Budapest Honvéd National Championship I 30 31
1950 15 25
1951 21 21
1952 26 22
1953 26 27
1954 20 21
1955 26 18

1958–59 Real Madrid La Liga 24 21 5 2 29 23
1959–60 25 28 5 10 30 38
1960–61 28 27 9 14 37 41
1961–62 23 20 8 13 31 33
1962–63 30 26 7 5 37 31
1963–64 25 20 0 0 25 20
1964–65 19 11 4 4 23 15
1965–66 8 4 3 1 11 5

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