"I Never Knew
Buddy Was Such a Unique Person"
10 December 2006, 15:10
We merged with the mourning crowds walking from Puskás Stadium to Saint
Stephen's Basilica, where the burial of Ferenc Puskás - one of the
greatest footballers of all time, as well as the most famous Hungarian -
was to take place. The ceremony was touching; yet, there was painfully
little public interest. On our way to the basilica, some realised the
greatness of the deceased player, and we heard two gentlemen discussing
when our country would produce such an outstanding athlete again. They
eventually agreed on, "in one hundred years, at least"..
took an impromptu poll at the stadium, those having participated in
Puskás's final honours described it with the words solemn, uplifting,
compelling, poignant, and perfect. Some came with candles, walking all the
way to the basilica, whereas others were surprised to learn about the
procession and offered the bunch of flowers they had bought for their
daughter's birthday to say their own good-bye to Puskás.
Would There Have Been More People in Athens?
everyone agreed that Puskás's funeral was worthy of his outstanding career;
and quite naturally, nobody failed to mention that the best Hungarian
footballer of the last century had deserved far more mourners.
is how we are," concluded many of the visitors, remarking that we should
not complain about the weather. "We can't even grieve without grousing. We
have difficulty weighing up the importance of things," mentioned one of
our colleagues sadly. "We tend to find faults in everything, even football,
which has been causing so much rancour ever since its decline and
frightening fans away. Maybe we would have had more participants if the
occasion had been held in Athens.".
He Wants to Play in a Puskás Shirt
I'm going to buy a black shirt, have the name Puskás and the number ten
printed on it, and then wear it when I'm playing," said one young amateur
in the procession with a candle in his hands.
Another lad, slightly older than him, said that he had been in Bernabeu
Stadium, in Madrid, where he had seen a "not too good" game, but he was
proud to have visited the scene of Pancho's success.
Everybody Who Is Anybody Was There
never knew Buddy was such a unique person," said a thirty-something woman,
confirming the fact that it is impossible to get a realistic picture of
Puskás after such a long and constrained silence. "Everybody who is
anybody is here!" she enthused.
Stadler, former tycoon and head of his own sports club, who also had a
stadium named after him, attended the event with his girlfriend - albeit
not too long, as he did not even bother to join the procession. He may
have realised that his own stadium, too, is day by day crumbling into
Maybe in Two Hundred Years We Will Have a Man of His Talent
"When do you think we'll have another player of his talent?" His peer
replied that a man of Buddy's stature is born only once a century. "The
way things are going today, we may have to wait another two hundred years,"
he added bitterly.
"Puskás is bigger than Santa Claus," offered one smiling vendor near the
Fine Arts Museum. Nearby a man did not seem to understand why film
director Koltay should be considered "too right-wing" to coordinate the
event, admitting that he really enjoyed the farewell ceremony.
should get across," said a little old lady to her husband. "We can have a
better view of the procession from over there. I want to see the coffin."
Then, she told us she had never seen Puskás in the flesh, only on
television a couple of times, but she was intrigued by the ceremony, since
"you've got to be somebody to have a funeral like this.".
hundred yards away stood a man holding in one hand a red-and-white-striped
flag (the colours of the once-ruling House of Árpád) and in the other a
deflated football. Four policemen approached, but not knowing what to do
with him, they eventually left him alone.
Were the Greatest
a beautiful thing," said a young woman, an Italian tourist, who had no
idea what was going on in the city, since she had never heard of Puskás
before or seen him play. However, she figured he must have deserved it.
The fact that she could not board the No. 4 bus did not seem to annoy her
in the slightest.
Poker-faced Zoltán Szőke - a.k.a. Miklós Berényi from the popular soap
opera Barátok Közt (Among Friends) - stood with friends and watched the
entire procession as it moved past the Opera House.
As the mourners turned onto the road to the basilica, one man shouted, "You
were the greatest, Buddy!" This met with the approval of many.
Beckenbauer: No Footballer Has Ever Been Remembered So
"I will never forget this uplifting ceremony, and I feel
privileged and honoured to have been here," said Joseph Blatter,
President of FIFA, to Pál Schmitt, Chairman of the Hungarian Olympic
Committee and President of the Ferenc Puskás Tribute Committee, who
was still in hospital at the time, on Saturday, immediately after
the funeral ceremony for the Golden Team's legendary striker.
Franz Beckenbauer, the world-famous "Caesar" on the German team,
shared his opinion, "I believe that no fotballer has ever been
buried so memorably and with such respect, but Puskás deserved it."
Arriving on a private jet, the German deputation changed their
departure time, in order to attend the burial service at Saint
Stephen's Basilica. Beckenbauer said he was honoured to have said
one of the prayers for the deceased.
At the New York Palace, the Hungarian Olympic Committee and the
Hungarian Football Association held a reception for the
distinguished foreign visitors after the tribute. In his address,
President László Sólyom said that Ferenc Puskás played a significant
role in uniting the people of Hungary thanks to his public spirit.
His statement proved to be true at the banquet. Mónika Lamperth,
Minister of Sports Affairs for Municipal and Regional Development,
and Viktor Orbán, the ex-Prime Minister, were seated at the same
table. (Hungarian News Service)