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László Kubala Stecz (June 10, 1927May 17, 2002), also referred to as Kubala Stécz László, or Ladislav "Laci" Kubala was a footballer and manager who played as a forward with, among others, Ferencváros TC, ŠK Slovan Bratislava, Vasas SC, FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol. He also played for three different national teams, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Spain, as well as a Europe XI and the Catalan XI. During the 1950s he was a leading member of the successful FC Barcelona team. During his playing career with that club he scored 274 goals in 345 appearances . In 1999, during the club's centenary celebrations, a fans' poll declared him the best player ever to play for the club. After retiring as a player he began a career as coach. He had two spells as coach of FC Barcelona and he also coached both the senior Spain national team and the Spain Olympic Team.

A striker with great passing qualities, Kubala also had an uncommon dribbling ability, combining pace and skill. Kubala's composure in finishing, and power when striking for goal were also highly renowned. Also, he was one of history's greatest free kick specialists, able to bend the ball with pace and accuracy.

Early life and career

Childhood and youth

Kubala was born in Budapestmarker. His mother was a Slovak-Hungarian factory worker, while his father was a Slovak-Polish bricklayer, both from Bratislavamarker. He began his career as a junior player with Ganz TE, a factory that played in the Hungarian third division. At the age of 11 he was playing in teams with other players who were three to five years older . At the age of 18 he signed for Ferencváros TC where he was a teammate of Sándor Kocsis. In 1946 he moved to Czechoslovakiamarker, allegedly to avoid military service, and joined ŠK Slovan Bratislava. In 1947 Kubala married Anna Viola Daučík, the daughter of the ŠK coach, Ferdinand Daučík. In 1948 he returned to Hungarymarker, again to allegedly avoid military service, and joined Vasas SC.


In January 1949, as Hungary became a communist state, Kubala fled the country in the back of a truck. Initially he arrived in the US zone in Austriamarker and then moved onto Italymarker. While he played briefly for Pro Patria. In May 1949 he also agreed to play for Torino in a testimonial against S.L. Benfica but pulled out after his son became ill. On the way back from Lisbonmarker the plane carrying the Torino team crashed into the Superga hillsmarker, killing all 31 people on board.

Meanwhile the Hungarian Football Federation accused him of breach of contract, leaving the country without permission and failure to do military service. FIFAmarker backed them and imposed a one-year international ban. In January 1950 Kubala, with Ferdinand Daučík as coach, formed his own team Hungaria. The team was made up of fellow refugees fleeing Eastern Europe. In the summer of 1950 the team arrived in Spainmarker to play a series of friendlies against a Madrid XI, a Spain XI and RCD Espanyol.

During these games, Kubala was spotted by both Real Madrid and Josep Samitier, then chief scout at CF Barcelona. Kubala was offered a contract by Real but was persuaded by Samitier to sign for CF Barcelona. It has been suggested that Samitier used his connections within the Franco regime to help arrange the transfer. In the midst of the Cold War, Kubala’s escape to the West was used as propaganda by the Franco regime and was made into a film The Stars Search for Peace which saw Kubala and Samitier playing themselves .

FC Barcelona

Kubala signed for CF Barcelona on June 15 1950 and as part of the deal Ferdinand Daučík also became the FC Barcelona coach. However the ban imposed on Kubala was still in place and he did not make his La Liga debut until 1951. However he was permitted to play friendlies and in two consecutive games against Frankfurter S.V., which FC Barcelona won 4-1 and 10-4, he scored six goals and set-up another five. He also played in the Copa del Generalísimo and helped the club win the trophy in 1951.

In his first La Liga season, 1951-52, Kubala scored 26 goals in 19 games. This included 7 goals in a 9-0 win over Sporting de Gijón, 5 against Celta de Vigo and hat-tricks against Sevilla and Racing de Santander. He also scored in the Copa final as CF Barcelona beat Valencia CF 4-2. This season proved to be one of the clubs most successful. Coach Daucik and Kubala, together with players like Emilio Aldecoa, Velasco, Joan Segarra and Ramallets, inspired the team to win five different trophies including La Liga, the Copa del Generalisimo, the Latin Cup and the Copa Eva Duarte. Kubala missed much of the 1952-53 season after contracting tuberculosis, which threatened to end his playing career. However he made a miraculous recovery and returned to help CF Barcelona retain both La Liga and the Copa del Generalísimo. He also scored again in the Copa final win, a 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao.

In 1958 Kubala persuaded two fellow Hungarian refugees, Sándor Kocsis and Zoltán Czibor to join him at CF Barcelona and together with a young Luis Suárez and Evaristo, they formed the nucleus of the team that won a La Liga/ Copa del Generalísimo double in 1959 and a La Liga /Fairs Cup double in 1960. However Kubala found himself out of favour with coach Helenio Herrera and lost his place in the team. As a result he missed the 1960 European Cup semi-final against Real Madrid which CF Barcelona lost 6-2 on aggregate. The result saw Herrera lose his job and Kubala restored to the team. In the 1961 European Cup, CF Barcelona became the first club to beat Real Madrid in the competition. Inspired by Kubala they won 4-3 on aggregate and subsequently reached the final were they lost to Benfica 3-2. Kubala briefly retired as a player in 1961 and initially became a youth coach at CF Barcelona before becoming coach of the senior team for the 1962-63 season. However after losing a Fairs Cup game to Red Star Belgrade he was dismissed.

International career

Kubala played for three different international teams - Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Spain. While playing with ŠK Slovan Bratislava, he played 6 times and scored 4 goals for Czechoslovakia between 1946 and 1947. After returning to Budapest in 1948, he played 3 games for Hungary but failed to score. After adopting Spanish nationality he played 19 times and scored 11 goals for Spain between 1953 and 1961. The highlight of his international career was a hat-trick for Spain against Turkey in 3-0 win in November 1957 . Despite playing for three different countries, Kubala never played in the finals of a major international tournament. He was included in the Spain squad for the 1962 World Cup but, along with Alfredo Di Stéfano, he did not play due to injury.

As well as playing for three different international teams, Kubala also played for both a Europe XI and the Catalan XI. On October 21 1953, England played a Europe XI at Wembley Stadiummarker to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the FA and Kubala scored twice in the 4-4 draw. He also played 4 games and scored 4 times for the Catalan XI. On January 26 1955 in a game against Bologna at Les Cortsmarker, he was joined by guest player Alfredo Di Stéfano. The Catalan XI won 6-2 with two goals from Kubala and one from Di Stéfano. His last game for the Catalan XI was his own testimonial on March 4 1993 at the Montjuïc Stadiummarker against an International XI. He played the opening ten minutes of the game at age 65.

Coaching career

After leaving CF Barcelona, Kubala accepted a contract as a player/coach with RCD Espanyol and teamed up with Alfredo Di Stéfano. During his time at RCD Espanyol he gave a La Liga debut to his son, Branko. In 1966 he joined FC Zürich, again as player/coach, and made his last appearance in a European Cup game against the competitions eventual winners, Celtic. In 1967 Kubala went to Canadamarker, where at Toronto Falcons he enjoyed something of family reunion with his father-in-law, Ferdinand Daučík, his brother-in-law, Yanko Daucik and his son Branko.

By the end of 1968 he had returned to La Liga, and after a brief spell at Cordoba CF, he became coach of Spain. Kubala ended the team's 12-year absence from the World Cup in when he guided the team to the 1978 World Cup, but he could not steer them through the first-round group stage. He also managed them at Euro 80, where they again went out in the first round.

In 1980 he returned to FC Barcelona as a manager for a second short spell before moving to Saudi Arabiamarker where he managed Al-Hilal. He subsequently managed three other La Liga clubs, including CD Málaga who guided to the Segunda División title in 1988. He then coached the gold medal winning Spain Olympic Team at the1992 Olympic Games. His last coaching position was with Paraguay in 1995.



CF Barcelona


CD Málaga

Career statistics

Club Season League Cup Europe Other Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Barcelona 1950-51 0 0 7 6 7 6
1951-52 19 26 7 12 2 1 28 39
1952-53 11 7 6 5 17 12
1953-54 28 23 3 3 31 26
1954-55 19 14 3 5 22 19
1955-56 25 14 2 1 1 1 28 16
1956-57 18 9 5 5 0 0 23 14
1957-58 21 12 6 4 2 2 29 18
1958-59 20 9 1 1 2 0 23 10
1959-60 12 7 5 4 6 9 23 20
1960-61 13 10 3 5 9 1 25 16
Total 186 131 48 51 20 13 2 1 256 196
Espanyol 1963-64 29 7 4 0 33 7
Total 29 7 4 0 33 7
Career Total 215 138 52 51 20 13 2 1 289 203


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