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Farewell to Ferenc Puskás


9 December 2006, 21:57 Now We Have Lost Our Puskás As Well - Summary
Ferenc Puskás, who died at the age of 79, was given a grand funeral tribute on Saturday. Ferenc Puskás was a gold-medal winner, an Olympic Champion, and one of the most outstanding soccer players in the world. He held the title "Sportsman of the Nation" in Hungary.
9 December 2006, 20:39 Soldiers of the Guard of the Republic bore Ferenc Puskás to his final resting place in the crypt of Saint Stephen's Basilica. Ferenc Puskás died on 17 November, at the age of 79. László Kiss-Rigó, the local bishop of Szeged-Csanád County, blessed the coffin. Calvinist bishop László Tőkés was also in attendance.
Only the closest family members were present in the crypt of Saint Stephen's Basilica, where Ferenc Puskás was finally laid to rest.
9 December 2006, 20:36 Ferenc Puskas's coffin was carried into the crypt of Saint Stephen's Basilica


9 December 2006, 20:31 The Funeral Service Ended
ASpeeches of commemoration were delivered by Mr. Juan Antonio Samaranch, Chairman of the Internation Olympic Committee; Joseph S. Blatter, representative of FIFA; István Kisteleki, leader of the Hungarian Football Association; and László Kiss-Rigó, the local bishop of Szeged-Csanád County. These speeches ended the funeral service. Then, the coffin was taken to the front of the Basilica and placed back atop the gun carriage.
9 December 2006, 20:25 Kisteleki: Now We Have Lost Our Puskás As Well
"Now we have lost our Puskás as well," said István Kisteleki, President of the Hungarian Football Association. "We fared badly at the World Championship and at eliminatory rounds of the European Championship, but you were always a kindling hope for us. You are unforgettable and immortal. An everlasting example that there is a way to succeed. You were so great, and you reached such heights that you have become unparalleled. You became a legend in your own lifetime. Some unthinkable miracle - one you can bring about with a simple ball in this world - you performed. A stadium has immortalized you by bearing your name, and millions will remember your performance forever. You had those marvellous feet. I envy the one who last held your hand. Fare thee well!"
9 December 2006, 20:22 Lamperth: Now the Captain Has Rejoined His Teammates in Heaven

Mónika Lamperth, Minister of Sports Affairs for Municipal and Regional Development, referred to Ferenc Puskás's life as a hymn of glory and called him "Sportsman of the World".

"It would be good to believe that we have come here not to bury, but to see some wonder, a gambit of the Buddy Puskás variety. This could very well be a gambit, too - the very last one. If he could see how the world commemorates him, he would wink his eye, flash that impish smile and probably say, 'See, I've won again. I've beaten that ugly twentieth century.' Now, for a second, the ball perhaps comes to a perfect standstill at the Copacabana, in Madrid, in Athens, and also in Melbourne.

His life revolved around the ball. In that ramshackle building that served as his birthplace, nobody anticipated that there would come a day when the whole world would revolve around Ferenc Puskás. For us - to whom he left the legacy of his wonderful character, the 6-3 in London, his splendid four goals in a single European Cup final - it is an eternal miracle that when we utter the word HUNGARY, there comes the enthusiastic answer PUSKÁS! And vice versa. When we say the name PUSKÁS, one word springs to mind - HUNGARY.

"Puskás was awarded the title 'Sportsman of the Nation', but if we look at this crowd, if we consider all the sportsmen, all the Olympic Champions, I must say, he was the Sportsman of the World"

"Puskás's life was a hymn of glory, only it hurts that, in these very moments, somewhere high above, his previously departed teammates are receiving their captain once more. May you rest in peace!"

9 December 2006, 19:43 Tőkés: The Nation's Football Must Renew
"I have arrived from Oradea. Oradea has had a great soccer team in the past four years. I am honoured to convey Transylvania's respects, affection, compassion, and gratitude for having united the Hungarian nation with your performance on the playing field." These were the opening words of László Tőkés's speech.

The Calvinist Bishop of the Királyhágó Region said Puskás and the Hungarian Golden Team were the best footballers at the time when the Hungarian nation could only go to stadiums and sports grounds to recover its self-esteem. Tőkés said that the situation is partly the same beyond the borders of Hungary now, too.

"The word goal is of English origin, and it means aim. We must achieve our aims. We must achieve our goals, fighting our battles with faith and a cooperation that transcends national borders. This day is a tribute to the team which fought not only as a football team, but also for the nation."

9 December 2006, 19:29 Outstanding Footballers Pray

The sermon was succeeded by prayers.

"We are grateful to you, Lord, for the years you gave our brother Ferenc Puskás. We are grateful that you let him become part of our lives. Give us the strength that we be worthy of his memory," said Gyula Grosics, former goal-keeper on the Golden Team.

Spokesman Gyula Szöllősi said a prayer for Puskás's family.
Bozsik Péter, the son of Puskás's closest friend József Bozsik, thanked the Lord for Puskás's unique talent.
Lajos Détári, selected five time to represent the world's eleven best soccer players, spoke about Puskás's achievement.
Franz Beckenbauer, Germany's world champion, thanked Hungary for turning Puskás into a great soccer player, and he also thanked Spain and Europe for Puskás.
Imre Gellei, former captain of the Hungarian Football Association, thanked the Lord for Puskás's life, for a life that did not simply roll by, but perfected itself.
9 December 2006, 19:26 Puskás's Medals and Badges of Honour in the Sanctuary
Students of the Ferenc Puskás Football School of Felcsút placed several of Puskás's medals and badges of honour at the altar.
9 December 2006, 19:16 The Captian of All Leagues Has Called Puskás Off the Field

László Kiss Rigó, the local bishop of Szeged-Csanád County, performed the Catholic funeral service.
"The Captian of All Leagues has called Puskás off the field, not in order to replace him, but to have him play in another league where there are no losers and no winners. Our job now is to count him among the chosen," said László Kiss Rigó, bishop of Szeged-Csanád County.

"Those who play on my side, I will select for the eternal team," so delivered László Kiss-Rigó the Word of God. "where the referee never makes an incorrect judgement and the joy of the game comes above all."
9 December 2006, 18:59 Sólyom: We Should Be Proud Together

"We are burying a great man," Mr. László Sólyom, the President of Hungary, began his speech at Saint Stephen's Basilica. He continued, "In death, external trappings no longer matter, for the final reckoning is already complete.

"Ferenc Puskás was a good man. The whole nation is bereaved, because he was an extraordinary player and gave people joy. He himself said that he was an entertainer, but he gave much more than that."

President Sólyom emphasized that Ferenc Puskás handled well the gift he had been allotted. "They knew him the world over, and the whole world loved him ... Besides talent, one also needs good luck," said President Sólyom, and he spoke about the collective language of football, which everyone in the world understands.

Az ő játéktere olyan volt, ahol a valódi teljesítmény számít. Nem botrányokkal lett híres, hanem a játékával.

In Puskás's field of activity, it was performance that really mattered. He became famous through his playing, and not through his scandals ... He gave us Hungarians so much by treating us to happiness and pride in a dark period of our history ...
We should realize again that giving is pleasure," said the President. "Puskás became a link between people. He conveyed an invitation for something positive, and he continues to live after he has stopped playing. Young people are happy to have found a national myth in Puskás. One who is true to himself can unify people.

"This unifying spirit manifests itself now that this final farewell has brought people together once again. It brings back the time when the people of Hungary found it possible to share enthusiasm and pride. We should also be capable of sharing in the same spirit now." These were President Sólyom's concluding words.
9 December 2006, 18:58 The Memorial Service Began
The memorial service started with Hungarian President László Sólyom's speech at Saint Stephen's Basilica.
9 December 2006, 18:46 The funeral march arrived at Saint Stephen's Basilica. After the military honours and the march along Andrássy Avenue, the crowd arrived at Saint Stephen's Basilica, where the Sportsman of the Nation was to be buried.
9 December 2006, 18:45 Minor Incident at Kodály Circus

Some of those in the funeral procession noticed a man on the roadside who held a red-and-white-striped Árpád flag (considered by some to be nationalistic) and a half-inflated ball. People started criticizing him, saying it was not a day about political affairs and that the flag had no place there. The quarrellers were soon separated by policemen, and two or three patrolmen surrounded the flag-bearer.

The gun carriage arrived at Heroes' Square, where the Hungarian Army bid farewell to its distinguished departed with military honours. Attila B. Kiss sang the aria "Homeland, Homeland" from Erkel's opera Bánk Bán. Ferenc Puskás had been promoted to the rank of brigadier general posthumously. General Tamás Szabó addressed a farewell speech to the Sportsman of the Nation. Following his speech, they played the "Hungarian Retreat" accompanied by gun salute.

9 December 2006, 17:30 Funeral March Proceeds Down Dózsa György Road
Our correspondent reports that six or seven thousand people are following the gun carriage with Ferenc Psukás's coffin on it, heading towards Heroes' Square. Candles are lit in windows to commemorate the legendary footballer.
9 December 2006, 17:23 Samaranch: I Will Treasure His Memory Forever
"I first met Buddy at the Helsinki Olympic Games," said Juan Antonio Samaranch, former President of the International Olympic Committee. In his statements for the magazine INDEX, he recalled that Puskás was a fantastic footballer and a great character. "I'm awfully sorry that he has died. I will treasure his memory for ever," stated Samaranch, who personally honoured Ferenc Puskás at the International Olympic Committee's Order of Merits in 1997.
9 December 2006, 17.10 Tolling and Drumming

The gun carriage with the coffin leaves Ferenc Puskás Stadium. The funeral march proceeds towards Heroes' Square, where military honours are to be paid to the deceased brigadier general.

19 December 2006, 17.01 The Hungarian national anthem closes the ceremony at the stadium.
The coffin is placed on a gun carriage while the Hungarian national anthem sounds. Then, the march, accompanied by Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" sung in Spanish, sets out.
9 December 2006, 16:58 The coffin is removed from the catafalque.
The song entitled "There Has to Be a Final Word" by Ferenc Demjén is played while the Guard's regiment removes Ferenc Puskás's coffin from the catafalque. They place it on the gun carriage.
9 December 2006, 16:51. Buddy Puskás, Buddy Puskás!
During the funeral service in the stadium, the crowd chanted the words "Buddy Puskás, Buddy Puskás!" again and again.
9 December 2006, 16:50 Jenő Buzánszky, one of the two surviving members of the Golden Team, bade farewell to one of the greatest footballers in the world. The former player on the Golden Team referred to his teammate as a genius and emphasized that Buddy Puskás was a great human being his entire life.

"He was a true friend and a true sportsman on the football ground. He put his name down in the golden book where great acts of the Hungarian people are recorded." Buzánszky quoted the words of János Eszterházy, a writer from the northern part of former Hungary, now part of Slovakia. With another quotation from Albert Wass, Buzánszky emphasized the importance of remembering.

Buzánszky expressed his appreciation in this message to his long time friend, "He elevated Hungarian football to the top of the world and kept it there. His left foot drove the full-backs and the opposition teams crazy. Be proud of your life, your career, and the affection of people who addressed you simply as 'Uncle' Buddy."

"The heart of a nation and of the whole world is filled with pain. I wish you meet the other members of the team in heaven!" said Buzánszky. "One more star shines in the sky, and you are the brightest star for us," were the closing words of Buzánszky's speech, which he delivered on his own and Gyula Grosics's behalf..

9 December 2006, 16:47 Special Appreciation from the Spanish Association
Angel Maria Villar, President of the Spanish Football Association, expressed his own farewell and that of the great family of the European football world. He mentioned how Puskás, an extraordinary figure, unified Europe, so divided at the time. He expressed his special appreciation to the former Real Madrid player for his contribution to Spanish football. Angel Maria Villar listed Puskás among the greatest Hungarians, besides Petőfi, Liszt, and Bartók..
9 December 2006, 16:34 Ferenc Puskás Sings
While couples dance around the catafalque, Ferenc Puskás sings the song "My Father Was in a Singing Mood", recorded back in Spain..
9 December 2006, 16:32 Calderon: Thank you, Hungary! Thank you, Pancho!

Vicente Calderon, current President of Real Madrid, commenced his speech with the words "Puskás's death fills us with pain." He went on to say, "All Spain is mourning the loss of Puskás, because he greatly contributed to our team's becoming a shining star in the world. Puskás is a role model for every child, a hero in Europe, in Spain, and in his native country. Ferenc, for us, is unforgettable."

Claderon stated that Puskás's comradeship, kindness, and generosity set an example for every Real player who put on the team's strip.

"We are happy to have had him on our team."

"I'm grateful to God for allowing this genius to be born and allowing him to be a member of our team. We must do our best to properly preserve his memory," said Calderon, who finished his speech by saying, "Thank you, Hungary! Thank you, Pancho!"

9 December 2006, 16:30 György Szepesi Bade Farewell to a Very Good Friend

György Szepesi, the legendary sports reporter and honorary president of the Hungarian Football Association, bade a personal farewell to his very good long-time friend.

"I am addressing you from outside the field line, and I am talking to you about one of the legends of this magical game. We are honouring one of the greatest sons of the Hungarian people. Thank you for giving me the chance to be in your presence and the chance to report on your wonderful work."

György Szepesi recalled the family relationships of the best-known Hungarian, his attachment to his native land, his religious commitment, and his sports career that was based on absolute fair play. Szepesi recalled how Ferenc Puskás relinquished the title "Best Scorer" in favour of Di Stefano in the 1959 Spanish Football Championship. "Since football lives forever, Buddy Puskás's memory will live forever," went Szepesi's words.
9 December 2006, 16:20 Guests of Honour Receive Memorial Plaque

The Hungarian Football Association commissioned sculptor Kligl Sándor of Szeged to make the memorial plaques which were bestowed upon the guests of honour at Puskás's funeral.

One side of the medal carries the picture of the captain of the Hungarian Golden Team as shown in a photograph from 1953. The other side shows the Hungarian Football Association's coat of arms. Altogether, there are 20 silver and 200 silver-plated pieces of this kind.
9 December 2006, 16:08 Schmitt: Thank God for Giving Us This Genius

Zoltán Novotny, the first speaker, read out the speech written by Pál Schmitt, who was taken ill Friday morning. Mr. Schmitt's message was that we are bidding farewell to the Olympic Champion, the sportsman, the fellow human being, everyone's Buddy Puskás.

In his speech, Pál Schmitt posed the question, "Can the joy of anticipation," referring to Advent, "match the pain of loss in our souls?" The message also expressed Mr. Schmitt's grievances, since he believed that Puskás, in his final years, did not have the fortune to enjoy in comfort what he had achieved.

"Puskás's heart, wherever he lived or was in the world, his heart always was in Kispest."

Besides his grievances, Schmitt conveyed in his message that the expression "Thank God" carried a special message. "Thanks for giving this genius to us, the Hungarians, so our country could have a proper means of identification, and the words Puskás and Hungarian could be pronounced together the world over.""

His address continued, "Puskás worked on five continents of the Earth, but wherever he was, he remained a Hungarian boy from Kispest. Whatever nicknames he bore - the Speedy Major or the Little Cannon - for us, he was always Buddy. We should certainly be proud of him, all the fifteen million Hungarians.".

In his message, Pál Schmitt, Chairman of the Hungarian Olympic Committee and an Olympic champion, also mentioned Puskás's generosity and unselfishness. "He was just one of us, a team player.""

Schmitt also quoted Goethe, "Real value will not be misplaced." He then put the question, "Will there be schools, streets, stadiums, associations, and squares named after him?" His answer was yes.

He concluded with the parting thought that the line of strikers was united in Heaven, since all but two of the members of the Golden Team had already departed.
9 December 2006, 16:02 Puskas's Coffin on the Catafalque
The Guard's Division of the Republic placed the best-known Hungarian's coffin on the catafalque in the central ring of the stadium. Then, the poem entitled "Szózat", recited by Zoltán Latinovits, was broadcast, and part of Verdi's Requiem was performed by Katalin Pitti and the Hungarian Radio's Children's Choir.
9 December 2006, 15:54 Pál Schmitt Unable to Deliver His Speech
On Friday morning, Pál Schmitt, president of the committee responsible for the funeral service, had heart problems and was taken to hospital. His doctors advised him not to deliver his speech at the funeral..
9 December 2006, 15:52 The Pros Come Marching In
Footballers of the First League and the Second League line up around the football field for the funeral service.
9 December 2006, 15:49 Four Thousand in the Stands
A few minutes before the funeral service was to start a mere 4000 people occupied Puskás Stadium.
The area around the stadium resembles a football match event. Pretzels, cookies, and chocolate bars are being sold around Puskás Stadium. The vendors create an atmosphere as though it were a Saturday football match. Besides the food, one can buy black flags, too.
9 December 2006, 15:29 VIPs Arrive
Rudolf Ilovszky, a legendary Vasas player, has appeared on the grandstand - together with Máté Fenyvesi of FTC; István Sándor, a football coach from the Kárpátalja Region (formerly a part of Hungary, now part of the Ukraine); and Olympic champion fencer György Nébald..
9 December 2006, 15:22 Candles Lit
Attendance is still very poor at the stadium, but those who have come have lit candles at the organisers' request.
9 December 2006, 15:07 March of Commemoration

The program of the funeral service, due to start at 4 p.m., consists of twenty points, as organized by the responsible committee.

First "Szózat", the second Hungarian national anthem, was played. It was followed by part of Verdi's Requiem. The first speaker was to be Pál Schmitt, Chairman of the Hungarian Olympic Committee and president of the organising committee responsible for the funeral. His speech was to be followed by an excerpt from a film. Then, György Szepesi, the sports announcer on each and every Golden Team match, spoke in the name of Ferenc Puskás's friends.

At Mrs. Ferenc Puskás's request, Jose Carreras was to sing. The programme did not make it clear whether the world famous singer would appear in person.

The next speech was to be delivered by Vicente Calderone, current Real Madrid President. This was to be followed by a video clip of Ferenc Puskás singing the song entitled "My Father Was in a Singing Mood"..

A speech by Angel Maria Villar, President of the Spanish Football Association, was to be followed by a musical version of the prayer "Our Father".

At Puskás's catafalque, the actor László Csurka was to recite a poem by Zoltán Szöllősi, and "Evening Song" by Zoltán Kodály was to be played.

Jenő Buzánszky, a member of the Golden Team, was to be the last speaker. Then, a video recording would show Ferenc Demjén performing the song "There Has to Be a Final Word"..

9 December 2006, 15:06 Words Come from the Cross
At the players' entrance to the stadium, a black platform was built where the speakers were to bid farewell to the world-class Budapest Honvéd and Real Madrid footballer who passed away on 17 November 2006, at the age of 79. They also placed a church bell and six candlesticks on the platform. The projector showed the Hungarian national banner bearing the words "THE NATION BIDS HER FAREWELL" within its white stripe.
9 December 2006, 14:37 For the Time Being, Few in the Stadium

One hour before the ceremony is due to start, there are only between three and four hundred people in the stadium. The projector shows the wonderful goal scored at the 6-3 match in London, as Puskás passes the ball by Wright. Then, pictures of Puskás's first return to Hungary, in 1986, are shown.

9 December 2006, 14:32 The Real Madrid Airplane Has Landed
Real Madrid's charter flight lands at Ferihegy Airport at 2 p.m. Among the members of the delegation are President Vicente Calderon, who is to deliver a speech, and former teammates Gento and Santamaria. There is no information whether anyone of the current players has travelled to the funeral. Tonight Real is to play a very important league match with Sevilla, which is also in the first three. Hence, the delegation will return to Madrid immediately after the farewell ceremony is over..
9 December 2006, 14:04 Intense Media Interest
Thirty-six foreign journalists representing fourteen television stations have arrived. Not only the BBC, but a Brazil Broadcasting Company is also present. Press representatives have come from Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Yugoslavia, and, of course, from Spain. France's Football and Germany's Kicker have also sent correspondents.
9 December 2006, 13:38 People Make Their Way to Puskás Stadium

Ten minutes before the gates were opened, about two hundred people were waiting at the Stefánia Avenue entrance to Puskás Ferenc Stadium. Our correspondent has reported that traffic is intense in the neighbourhood with more and more people arriving by subway and trolley bus.

On the trolley No. 75, young girls wrapped in FTC shawls said they never saw Puskás play live, but having seen some recordings, they could tell it was unfortunate that Hungarian football had no players of Puskás's calibre anymore.

Our correspondent has just encountered Krisztián Lisztes, the mid-fielder, as he was approaching the stadium in his Best Eleven track suit.
9 December 2006, 13:21 BBC News of the Funeral

The BBC's webpage reports that on Saturday, marked as the Day of Mourning, Ferenc Puskás's funeral is taking place. The BBC's public media internet service sums up Puskás's biography and the funeral schedule. It also quotes Gyula Grosics, the goal-keeper of the Golden Team, that their team did not take only the result into account, but always intended to entertain the public as well.

9 December 2006, 13:17 Another 13 Million HUF for the Funeral

Spokeswoman Emese Danks told the Hungarian News Agency (MTI) that besides the subsidy allotted so far, the government offered the Hungarian Olympic Committee another 13 million Hungarian forints to cover Ferenc Puskás's funeral expenses, bringing the states total contribution to over 73 million forints.

"The government also supports the funeral arrangements. It provides police and ambulance services and a compliment of military at Heroes' Square," runs the government spokeswoman's announcement. It also states that the 13 million forints will cover the operational and technical expenses of the funeral.

Spokeswoman Emese Danks also said that the government undertook to pay for the grave and the essential costs of the funeral. The government would make the stadium named after the football legend available for the funeral ceremony called "The Nation's Farewell".

The expense of the catafalque set up at Saint Stephen's Basilica were covered by the Ministry of Municipal and Regional Development.

Announcements made earlier said the government would cover 60 million of the total 180-million-forint price tag for the funeral ceremony.
9 December 2006, 10:32 Star Footballer Funerals - Half a Million on the Street

Garrincha of Brazil was laid out in state in one of the largest stadiums in the world, and Best's death caused a stir in the whole of Belfast.

9 December 2006, 9:06 National Banner Hoisted and Lowered

Accompanied by military honours, The Hungarian national banner was hoisted at Kossuth Square, then lowered ceremoniously for the funeral of football legend Ferenc Puskás, died 17 November, at the age of 79. Those participating in the ceremony were Mihály Bihari, President of the Constitutional Court; László Sólyom, President of the Hungarian Republic; Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány; Katalin Szili, Chairman of the Hungarian Parliament; and Zoltán Lomnici, President of the Supreme Court.

Besides the five public dignitaries, representatives of the government and the parties, foreign diplomatic representatives, and several officials of sports affairs took part in the ceremony.

The streets leading to Kossuth Square were sealed off by the police, and only those authorised were admitted.
9 December 2006, 9:02 Sixth Day of Mourning Since Fall of Communism in Hungary
The 17th of November will be a Day of Mourning in Hungary in honour of Ferenc Puskás, died at the age of 79. The "Day of Mourning" precedent was set by a government decree in 2001. There have been six such occasions. For special reasons, days of mourning have been arranged in Hungary several times.
9 December 2006, 8:33 Roads Closed for Puskás's Funeral
Friday evening preparations and Saturday afternoon and evening funeral marches for Ferenc Puskás have given rise to traffic restrictions in Budapest.
9 December 2006, 8:00 Farewell to Puskás in Kossuth Square, in Puskás Stadium, at Heroes' Square, and in Saint Stephen's Basilica
The last farewell to Ferenc Puskás, who died 17 November at the age of 79, will take place on Saturday. At Kossuth Square, the Hungarian national banner will be hoisted, then lowered again. The ceremony entitled "Nation's Farewell" will be held at Ferenc Puskás Stadium. Admission for the public starts at 2 p.m. The funeral ceremony starts at 4 p.m. and lasts until 5 p.m.

Then, taking Dózsa György Road, the funeral procession will set out for Heroes' Square, where the brigadier general will be given military honours. After military honours, the coffin, accompanied by a march down Andrássy Avenue, will be taken to Saint Stephen's Basilica, where a memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. The public will be able to watch the memorial service on monitors. Ferenc Puskás will be taken to his final resting place in the presence of his closest family members


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