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The Best-known Hungarian and Best Footballer Mourned

 

INDEX / Hungarian News Service (MTI)
17 November 2006, 11:59

Ferenc Puskás died Friday morning, and despite his long illness, his former teammates from the Golden Team were shocked to hear the news of his death.

As of Friday morning, with the death of the 79-year-old Ferenc Puskás, only two members of the legendary Golden Team remain alive, Jenő Buzánsky and goalie Gyula Grosics.

Jenő Buzánsky Learned from the Hungarian News Service

"Jesus and Mary! the 81-year-old Jenő Buzánsky burst out when he learned of Ferenc Puskás's death from the national news service. "It is a great tragedy for the country and especially for us friends. I am on the verge of tears. The day before yesterday I spoke with the doctors, and they said that 'Buddy' would live as long as his heart could hold out. The country has lost its greatest sportsman."

Grosics: It's Hard to Accept

Gyula Grosics, the goalie on the Golden Team, learned of Ferenc Puskás's death from the radio. In response to questions from the Hungarian News Service, he related, "Although silently we've been expecting the worst for a long time, it is terrible to experience the loss of a former teammate".

Said 80-year-old Grosics to the Hungarian News Service, "For years we played together on the Honvéd team and on the Best Eleven, so I can say that I've lost a good friend. It's hard to accept the fact that he's no longer with us. I deeply sympathise with his family, his wife, his daughter, and his grandchildren."

The formerly celebrated player regularly visited Ferenc Puskás at the Kütvölgyi Hospital. The last time he was by his side was in the hospital two weeks ago.

Szepesi: I Am Proud

According to the legendary radio reporter and former President of the Hungarian Football Association (MLSZ) György Szepesi, as a human being, too, the world-class footballer belonged among the greatest. "It's difficult to say anything at such times. It's commonly known that he was the most famous Hungarian. His name crops up everywhere along with Bartók, Kodály, and the Nobel Prize-winning scientists. And it's not just football he has to thank for his fame. As a human being, too, he belongs among the greatest. I am proud that I have known him ever since he was 16 years old. Why, my first National Team goal as a radio reporter he shot on 20 August 1945."

Szepesi stressed that Puskás demonstrated his exceptional greatness by bringing out the best in two football clubs, Real Madrid and Honvéd.

In closing, he added, "We, too, can derive strength from his greatness."

Péter Bozsik: History Separated the Friends

In connection with Ferenc Puskás's death, Péter Bozsik spoke about how his father József Bozsik, a mid-fielder on the Golden Team, had a close friendship with the greatest Hungarian footballer and how the two men loved each other like brothers.

"They grew up beside each other. For thirty years, until Puskás went abroad, they had a close friendship. Only a wall separated them. If they wanted to go to the playing field, they only had to knock at the flat next door. They regarded each other as brothers. My father was no longer alive when Puskás returned home the first time in 1982, so I could not form such a close relationship with him. History separated them," the former association captain said.

Károly Sándor: Indisputably the Greatest Hungarian

"We have lost the greatest of individuals today. Neither before nor after has there been anyone like him, and, I believe, there will not be for a long time," spoke Károly Sándor, characterising his Best Eleven teammate. "Six or seven years ago, when György Szepesi asked me who was the best-known Hungarian, I only answered, 'a footballer'. A footballer whose name you don't even need to mention, because there's no one who wouldn't know it. It is difficult to speak about him; you had to know him. It was a credit to his skill that he was the sort of left-footed player for whom the ball always seemed to arrive at his left foot. I travelled the world with him, and wherever we went, everywhere they cheered his name. At airports, crowds of photographers regularly awaited him. He will be very missed."

Mészöly: Overwhelmed by Memories

"I, thank God, had a very good relationship with him. He was an outstanding, big-hearted man who helped everyone he could. For me, the relationship is unforgettable," Kálmán Mészöly, former Best Eleven player and association captain, revealed to the Hungarian News Service as he recalled memories from his time spent with Puskás.

"I was privileged to play against him with Vasas in the European Championship Cup match. Still, perhaps it's our 1961 group match in Bernabeu Stadium that remains most clearly in my mind. Before the match, he went into the locker rooms and greeted everyone. At that competition, our coach, 'Uncle' Rudi Illovszky, instructed Kálmán Ihász to guard Puskás, to follow him, even into the toilet if that's where he went. Well, I won't say that he didn't give us any trouble, but he didn't score any goals that time. I met him again in 1962 and 1966, at the world championship. Why, we played on a team in the mid 70s, an 'old boys' team from all over Continental Europe playing against the English. He represented the Spanish, while old Gyula Grosics and I were the Hungarians. When he came back in 1981, I was the association captain. I remember, before our game against England in Budapest, how he came out onto the field in People's Stadium for the 'old boys' match. We lost that day, but the aura surrounding him remains unforgettable."

Mészöly added, "In the last six or seven years, unfortunately, we didn't speak so much, although that final period must have been very difficult for him and his family."


Source: Index


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