The Course of
Ferenc Puskás's Life
Born: 1 April 1927, Kispest
Playing Career: 1939-1956 for Kispest, later Budapest Honvéd;
1958-1967 for Real Madrid
Coaching Career: 1967 for Hercules Alicante; 1967 for San Fransisco
Gales; 1967-1968 for Vancouver Royals; 1969 for Alaves; 1970-1974 for
Panathinaikosz; 1974-1976 for Colo Colo; 1976-1977 for Saudi Arabia,
league captain; 1977 for Murcia; 1978-1979 for AEK Athens; 1979-1984 for
Al-Maszri; 1985 for Sol de America; 1986 for Cerro Porteno; 1988-1991 for
Panhellenic South Melbourne; and in 1993, captain of the Hungarian
Playing Achievements: Championship for Hungary (1949-50, 1950,
1952, 1954, 1955, and an unofficial championship title in 1956);
Championship for Spain (1960-61, 1961-62, 1962-63, 1963-64, 1964-65,
1966-67); Spanish Cup winner (1962), European Championship winner (1959,
1960, 1966); World Cup winner (1960); Olympic Champion (1952); and a
silver in the World Championship (1954)
Coaching Achievements: Championship for Greece (1969-70, 1971-72,
1978-79); Championship for Australia (1990-91); Australia Cup winner
Recognitions and Honours: Europe's Top Scorer (1948); World
Championship player (1963); European Championship player (1965); member of
FIFA's Football Hall of Fame (1998); Best Hungarian Player of the 20th
Century (2001); Sportsman of the Nation (2004)
Records: Most goals in one match (seven, 19 February 1949); most
goals in one season (fifty, in 1948), the third most successful footballer
in the 20th century (489 goals); Hungary's third most successful player
(357 goals, 1943-56); best-scoring player on the Hungarian National Team
(84 goals); the thirteenth most successful player in the Spanish league
(155 goals, 1958-1967); and the third best-scoring player in the European
He was born 1 April 1927, in the Zugló district of Budapest, at the Uzsoki
Street Hospital, gifted with the talent of an uncommon feel for spheres.
His parents, had they known, could not have steered their son in another
direction. The window of his room (actually, not his own, because the
family flat consisted of only one room) looked directly out over the
Kispest AC playing field.
So then, Kispest (Little Pest). The Purczeld family (His father simply had
the name changed to the more Hungarian-sounding Puskás in 1937.) moved to
a small flat on Újtemető utca (New Cemetery Street), which no longer
exists, in 1929, when the head of the family became an official player for
Kispest. Still, poverty (typical of the times and the difficult lot of the
working class) did not go easy on the Puskás family either. Nevertheless,
for "Buddy" - his best-known nickname, which he got at home - his
childhood was happy and balanced. It was filled with football. A field
could be found beside his parents' house, and for want of any other fun
activity, the neighbourhood children played football all day. Even then
his father, as well as the neighbours and passers-by, could already pick
out that the little left-footer was more skilled than the others. An
entire day of unrestrained football, bold gambits, and great goals would
only be interrupted when his mother would send her little son to the shop
for cigarettes or hard-candy headache remedies.
While little Buddy was an obedient and proper boy at home, at the same
time, he absorbed quite naturally the roguish atmosphere of everyday life
on the Kispest streets. Still, who would believe that the world's most
famous Hungarian was passionately fond of animals? When he was barely ten
years old, he smuggled home a mouse which he had found on the street. At
home, he kept it in a mason jar where he gave it food and drink, looking
after the rodent in a princely fashion for days. The mouse managed to get
free, however, escaped, and was never seen again. It was Buddy's mother
who discovered, to her extreme surprise, that all her supplies in the
pantry had been sampled and all the sacks were chewed into. This was one
occasion when Old Manci really gave Buddy what for.
Few know that Buddy enjoyed reading. As a boy, his favourites were the
popular penny cowboy-and-Indian novels available at that time. When he
could, and if he had the pocket money for it, he would rush to the Royal
Cinema on Üllői Road. But he certainly did not spend his forints on any
sort of comedy or heroic-romantic pictures - he exclusively enjoyed
shoot-'em-ups, films about gangsters or the wild west.
While recalling his childhood years, we simply must mention his binding
friendship with József Bozsik. It is practically unbelievable, a story
perfect for the movies, but the two were good friends from earliest
childhood until adulthood, when both men became world-famous football
players. Indeed, the Bozsik family lived in the very same house as the
Puskáses, and since the two boys, Buddy and Cucu, loved football, they
quickly became friends. When they were not running up and down the playing
field, they would hang out on the neighbourhood streets. Often, they would
race the yellow streetcar that hurried along Sárkány (Dragon) Street,
nowadays Ady Endre Street (named after the famous Hungarian poet Endre
Ady). When they did not have enough money for tickets, they would crawl
into the stadium through a pit dug under the fence. Or, at such times,
they would steal a pair of stockings to make a ball out of rags.
decision-makers envisioned idealised, successful athletes outfitted in
Communist uniforms, the Puskás family resisted. The players were solemnly
inducted, the training was already underway; however, because of the
unruliness and insubordination, after a few months, the higher-ups thought
it better to have the athletes continue their official careers at home and
not within barracks.
In 1950, already under the name of Budapest Honvéd, the team became
champions; though, at that time, in its composition, it was considerably
Kispest. In fact, come fall, they managed to double their Kispest make-up.
(There was a mid-season championship that year, because the home system
switched over to the Soviet-style spring-fall arrangement.) As for Buddy
Puskás, having scored 31 goals earlier, and then an additional 25 that
year, he secured the title of Hungary's Top Scorer. In 1951, Honvéd took
silver in the championship, and Puskás earned 21 goals. Two years later,
he shot 27 goals and became Best Scorer for the fourth time. In 1954, the
year of the world championship in Switzerland, Puskás was a champion for
the fourth time with the Honvéd team. One year later, he could celebrate
his fifth championship title and a silver medal in the Hungarian People's
Republic Cup. It was around this time that Honvéd began being mentioned as
the world's best soccer club, which brought together national players such
as Gyula Grosics, Sándor Kocsis, Zoltán Czibor, Gyula Lóránt, and László
At this time, many began to rumour that Puskás was struggling with excess
weight and past his prime. Perhaps this is because his game was weaker in
1956; still, he managed to come in fourth place on France Football's first
election for the Golden Ball Award. Because of the revolution, the
championship was pre-empted. It is true that on 23 October, Honvéd was the
first on the roster. Puskás embarked on the Western European tour with his
team in November. The journey's original destination was the second
announced match for Honvéd in the Championship League's European Cup, the
match against Bilbao having been rescheduled. The match, in fact, did take
place (3-2, in the Basques' favour), and because of the situation in
Budapest, the rematch also had to be played abroad, on a neutral pitch in
Brussels. Even here, the players did not especially wish to advance, and
it is rumoured that they deliberated dropped out of the European Cup (3-3
was the final result.) in order to travel on the South American tour
already scheduled. At the beginning of 1957 - supplemented by a few stars
from home, and having made successful charitable appearances in Europe -
they embarked for Brazil, however without the permission of the Hungarian
Football Association, and FIFA soon banned the touring Honvéd team at the
request of the Hungarian leaders. Disappointed, Puskás returned to Vienna,
where Buddy decided that he and his family would not return home to
Between 1943 and 1956, Ferenc Puskás took the field in 349 Hungarian
championship matches and scored 358 goals. He was a champion five times,
and four-time top scorer - an unheard-of accomplishment! Yet, his career
was far from over.
finished primary school in Kispest. He was not an outstanding pupil, but
he finished the eighth grade with good marks and no failures.
Cowboy novels, movies, small animals, and the young ladies of Kispest -
these were what the wildest years of the 30s were all about. Still,
everyone already realised that Buddy was born for football.
Although the Second World War broke out, Ferenc Puskás had football to
thank that he did not become a soldier. Following his career debut in
1943, seemingly overnight he had become a nationwide known player. In the
18th Championship match in 1944, he scored seven goals.
After the war, the Kispest team grew increasingly stronger, on no small
part thanks to its two local lads, József Bozsik and Cucu's good pal
Ferenc "Buddy" Puskás. In 1947, the team earned silver in the championship.
Within thirty matches, Puskás scored thirty-two goals. The following year,
he was the top scorer with fifty goals.
Meanwhile, politics was attributing ever greater importance to the sport,
and the fate of the draft-age Puskás, in its own particular way, brought
him in contact with the army. Issues were ordered from Moscow for every
Socialist country to form large federations made up of armed units and
sports associations. This finally came to pass under special circumstances
in Hungary in 1949 (the same year that Puskás, despite his 46 goals, only
came in second place on the list of top scorers, directly behind his
friend Ferenc Deák). Gusztáv Sebes, leader of the Communist Board of
Sports, with the creation of the large state-wide sports federation,
brought together one or two clubs, from which he hoped to establish a
future national team. For political reasons, out of Kispest, up till then
a small-town club which now summarily belonged to the capital, they
created a large army unit and ordered all of the best young athletes to
join. Indeed, a large number of the players on the national team were
sooner or later ordered to serve this way. Hence, without any roots, the
mammoth association of Honvéd came into being, the players being
conscripted soldiers. Of course, it was a naïve idea to make real soldiers
out of star football players. During the first half of the 50s, the
world's best national team was Hungary's, and Ferenc Puskás, as the team's
captain, was known for his undisputed authority.
When we mention the Golden Team, we are always referring to the Hungarian
National Team, which, from the beginning of the 50s until the Revolution
of 1956, struck fear in its competitors and stunned the world. The classic
line-up of Grosics - Buzánszky, Lóránt, Lantos - Bozsik, Zakariás - Budai
II, Kocsis, Hidegkuti, Puskás, and Czibor made the team legendary. The
team leader, with the unanimous approval of professional leaders and team
players, was Ferenc Puskás. The inside left from Kispest made his debut on
the Best Eleven against Austria in 1945. From that time on, he was
indispensable to the team. On and off the field, no one questioned his
authority. Many times during matches, he would change tactics if he felt
it was necessary, and the others obeyed his instructions.
The National Team's first important victory was winning the 1952 Olympics
in Helsinki. The team played confidently throughout under the leadership
of Puskás, who scored four goals during the tournament. They won the final
against Yugoslavia (2-1) thanks to his winning goal (despite missing a
penalty kick earlier). Then, for more than two years, the Hungarian
National Team went unbeaten. The winning streak was only broken in the
1954 World Championship final. In 1953, the year following the Olympic
triumph, the team travelled to the opening of the Olympic Stadium in Rome
for the European Cup final (This series was the predecessor of the
Championship League.), where they garnered another great success, winning
"Match of the Century." This was what the English pressed dubbed it weeks
before the 1953 match between England and Hungary. Never since has a
friendly match been followed with such interest as the Hungary - England
one played in Wembley Stadium. The Olympic-champion Hungarian team
primarily attracted attention for breaking the league founders' 90-year
unbeaten streak at home. Bringing in a legendary 6-3 victory, Ferenc
Puskás scored two goals during the encounter, his first goal being
world-famous to this day. Beside English team captain Billy Wright, he
pulled the ball back in an elegant feint, before kicking it into the
corner. Several books and films have covered this historic match, not just
in Hungary, but all over the world. The rematch occurred in 1954, when the
world championship took place in People's Stadium, where the Hungarian
team played with even more self-assurance, winning a 7-1 victory. During
this encounter, Puskás scored two goals.
The Hungarian team was in fantastic shape, and in this form, they began
preparing for the 1954 World Championship in Switzerland; for which,
naturally, they had the highest of hopes. The World Championship started
off well for the Golden Team. The Best Eleven won early victories against
South Korea (9-0) and the Federal Republic of Germany (8-3). In the course
of these two matches, Puskás scored three goals. However, the Germans were
not taken care of; in fact, they were stung into action, and they could
only return for the World Championship final. The Hungarians sent home
Brazil in the quarter-final, then Uruguay in the semi-final; and so they
prepared for the 4th July final in Bern, where they already lead 2-0 in
the ninth minute. Still, the Germans were able to turn it around - thanks
to, among others, the referees, who only accepted the first of Puskás's
two legitimate goals. A four-and-a-half-year winning streak was broken in
that most important of moments.
In the two years leading up to the 1956 Revolution, the Best Eleven still
played remarkably. After 1956, Ferenc Puskás emigrated and was no longer
able to play for the National Team. However, in 1993, after the system
change in Hungary, he returned as league captain, undertaking the team's
provisional management for no more than four matches.
20 August 1945
Hungary - Austria (5-2)
National Team match
Budapest, Üllői Road / 20,000 spectators
Goals: Puskás, Szusza (2), Vincze II, Zsengellér; as well as Decker
2 August 1952
Hungary - Yugoslavia (2-0)
Helsinki, Olympic Stadium / 60,000 spectators
Goals: Puskás, Czibor
17 May 1953
Italy - Hungary (0-3)
European Cup match
Rome, Olympic Stadium / 90,000 spectators
Goals: Puskás (2), Hidegkuti
25 November 1953
England - Hungary (3-6)
National Team match
London, Wembley Stadium / 105,000 spectators
Goals: Sewel, Mortensen, Ramsey; as well as Puskás (2), Hidegkuti
(3), and Bozsik
23 May 1954
Hungary - England (7-1)
National Team match
Budapest, People's Stadium / 92,000 spectators
Goals: Puskás (2), Kocsis (2), Lantos, Tóth II, Hidegkuti; as well
4 July 1954
Hungary - Federal Republic of Germany (2-3)
World Championship final
Bern, Wankdorf Stadium / 65,000 spectators
Goals: Puskás, Czibor; as well as Rahn (2) and Morlock
23 September 1956
Soviet Union - Hungary (0-1)
National Team match
Moscow, Lenin Stadium
14 October 1956
Austria - Hungary (0-2)
Vienna, Prater Stadium / 65,000 spectators
Goals: Puskás, Sándor
days of the 1956 Revolution, the world-famous Honvéd football team boarded
a bus and set off for West Europe, so they could prepare for the European
Cup match against Athletic Bilbao under peaceful circumstances. As history
would have it, they could not even play the rematch in Budapest; however,
by the time of the December match in Brussels, the team had already
decided to accept the invitation for a tour of South America. Although
Communist Hungary had not sanctioned this outing, a large part of the team
set out once more. After their return to Vienna in January, many had
decided not to return home to Hungary and the reconsolidated dictatorship.
Ferenc Puskás was one of them. Due to pressure from the Hungarian Football
Association, the dissidents received a two-year ban from FIFA, which
placed them in a very difficult financial position.
Ferenc Puskás, as a result of his stomach illness and subsequent excess
weight, awaited with even worse prospects the chance to play football
again. Although many did not think him capable of becoming a professional
player again, his friend Emil Östreicher, the former technical manager for
Kispest, believed in him. This Hungarian sports leader became an employee
of Real Madrid in 1958, serving as an advisor to President Santiago
Bernabéu. He immediately began to "soften" the legendary president to
Puskás's case. At first, the president would not even hear of acquiring
him. Östreicher did not give up, however, until he had won over Bernabéu,
to the point where he agreed to give Puskás a contract, despite Puskás's
being unable to play for months and his considerable battle against excess
weight. After the signing, he managed to drop the extra kilos within six
weeks, undergoing unbelievably hard work to lose the almost 15 kilos.
His first match as a real player occurred in Buenos Aries against River
Plate. He debuted in the Primera Division on 2 September 1958, against
Oviedo. In the championship match, which ended in a 5-1 victory for
Madrid, he even scored a goal. Altogether, the forward nicknamed "Little
Cannon" took the field in Real Madrdid colours for 372 matches, and he
scored 324 goals. He was a Spanish champion six times, a four-time top
scorer, and one of the leading personalities on the world's best football
league at the time, winning the first five (!) official European Cup
Championships for Real Madrid.
Yet, his Madrid career did not begin smoothly, and not only on account of
his excess weight. Indeed, the coach Luis Carniglia did not like Puskás,
claiming his own son could play better than the Hungarian. Bernabéu
himself wanted to sell Puskás to the Belgian Standard Liége. However, when
he played on loan for the city's rivals, Atlético Madrid, everything came
together for the striker. He was brilliant on the field and shot goals.
After that, the president was no longer willing to part with the wonderful
Hungarian striker. In vain did Carniglia win every contest that year with
Real. After he neglected to use Puskás in the European Cup final, Bernabéu
dismissed the coach.
Buddy's world-famous teammate Alfredo Di Stéfano enjoyed great respect
among his peers, and if he did not like a new acquisition, the player had
to go. He was not pleased either at Puskás's arrival, but he soon realised
that, with the arrival of one of the world's best players, he would not
suffer. On the contrary, he received so many assists from the genius
Hungarian that he soon forgot his initial reservations. His friendship
with Pancho (Pancho was Di Stéfano's name for Puskás.) stood the test of
time, and their mutual esteem remained unbroken.
However, Stéfano was not the only one who loved the Hungarian genius, all
Spain loved him. Puskás was granted citizenship in 1961, and played on the
national team for four matches, taking part in the world championship in
Chile as well. Real Madrid won the predecessor of the Championship League,
the European Championship Cup, three times, and Puskás's record at the
1960 final remains unbeaten to this day. (He scored four goals in the Real
- Eintracht Frankfurt match, which the Spanish won, 7-3.) He was the top
scorer for the series two times, and with his leadership, the King's Guard
won the first World Cup. (In the 1960 match against Penarol in Madrid,
Puskás scored two goals and delivered two assists, thus contributing to
the 5-1 victory.) At the end of the year, he came in second place in
France Football's vote for the Golden Ball Award, since many East-European
voters - the Hungarian voter among them (!) - did not nominate him for the
In 1967, at 40 years of age, Puskás stopped playing football. In 1969, a
celebratory farewell match was arranged in Madrid, against the Austrian
Rapid team, in front of an audience of 70,000 spectators.
the King's Club and among devoted supporters of Real Madrid, esteem for "Uncle"
Buddy has not faded with the passing of years. In Spain, Ferenc Puskás is
For many Hungarians, Ferenc Puskás's career simply ended in 1956. In fact,
the country's press kept silent about the emigrant genius's successes for
decades. In reference guides, entries under Puskás's name ended with "he
left for abroad in 1956," as though he had ceased to exist. Still, on
account of the nine years he played for Real Madrid, the European Cup
victories, his spot on the world championship team, and the role he played
in the media, legends about Puskás (still alive and dazzling somewhere)
seeped through the iron curtain. Nevertheless, it was nearly impossible to
learn anything, even about Puskás, once his active playing career came to
an end. Besides short and none-too-successful business ventures, he turned
his head to coaching, and in that capacity, he travelled the entire world.
Even the Hungarians came to know about his greatest success, the European
Cup he won with Panathinaikos in 1971, because the finale against Ajax was
broadcast on Hungarian television (though the commentators barely dared to
mention his name). Still, not all football fans know that Ferenc Puskás
worked as a league coach in Saudi Arabia, and he was on the coaching bench
for the Vancouver Royals in the first North American professional league.
He turned up at several smaller clubs in Spain (Alicante, Alavés, and
Murcia), and he was club coach for nearly five years (with interruptions)
in Egypt and Athens.
He also served as trainer for several Latin American teams in Paraguay and
Chile, not to mention the last role he undertook overseas, the position of
general manager for South Melbourne Hellas. (He served there at the
beginning of the 90s, when the club became champions and cup-winners.)
Afterwards, many remember how Puskás returned home - after twenty-five
years of silence, having received state permission - in 1981, for an "old
boys" match. His return was accompanied by a restrained official reception
in the midst of a large celebration. Then, after the system change, he
more or les moved back home. He served the Hungarian Football Association,
as far as his health permitted, with his contacts, his prestige, and his
presence. In 1993, he even filled the post of league captain for no more
than four matches. He was restored to honour (in public opinion,
immediately; along official political lines, more gradually) as the
country tried to make up for what they had failed to do for decades.
At home, he received every existing title and distinction. Further, the
International Olympic Committee and the International Football Association
(FIFA) decorated him with their highest honours. Still, perhaps the most
important title he received two years ago, that of "Sportsman of the
Nation". By virtue of its name and its character, it was meant as
compensation the greatest figure in Hungarian sports. Unfortunately, it
arrived too late for him to understand its significance.
In 2001, readers of Nemzeti Sport (National Sports) voted Ferenc Puskás
the best athlete of the century (practically, the best Hungarian athlete
of all time). Even in his final years, the football genius received a
number of distinctions which had to be delivered to him in the hospital.
Everyday visitors to Kútvölgyi Road included heads of state; leaders of
the international (FIFA), European (UEFA), and Hungarian (MLSZ) Football
Associations; managers from Real Madrid; and other influential individuals,
as well as friends and teammates.
He was first diagnosed with a specific variety of Alzheimer's disease in
2000, and he was soon in need of constant medical care as the terrible
disease gradually ate away at his health. At the beginning of September
2006, after his condition had considerably worsened, he was taken to the
intensive care unit of the Kútvölgyi Road Hospital and artificially fed
thereafter. His extraordinarily strong heart held out against death for a
long time, but with the last of several chest infections, it could bear
the strain no longer.
Ferenc Puskás left behind a loving wife, his faithful partner of 57 years,
a daughter living in Spain, two grandchildren, and three
great-grandchildren, as well as millions of bereaved fans and admirers all
over the world.
IFFHS, the worldwide organisation that deals with football statistics,
proclaimed Ferenc Puskás the best scorer of the 20th century, based on the
number of points earned in National Team matches and first-class
championship games. Naturally, no one ever to this day has broken the
Hungarian genius striker's amazing records, so we can declare completely
impartially that Ferenc Puskás was the greatest scorer of all time on the
face of the Earth.
Not only is it astounding that in nearly 1000 official qualifying matches
(those with something at stake) he shot around nearly as many goals, but
that a large share of those matches were fought the world's top-ranking
teams. With Budapest Honvéd, the Hungarian National Team, and Real Madrid,
Puskás played in the toughest championships, the hardest tournaments, and
the highest-ranked matches - and he still pounded out goals.
It was practically all the same to him whether it was a warm-up match in
the provinces, a National Team match, or even a European Cup final - he
was able to maintain an average of one goal per game nearly everywhere, in
World Championships and Olympic finales alike. Still, it was absolutely
usual for him to shoot hat tricks (as he did in the Real Madrid -
Barcelona and Kispest - Ferencváros title matches), doubles (against such
national teams as the Italian and the English), and even three or four
goals (in the European Cup, the predecessor to the Championship League,
What is no less striking, in the Hungarian National Team's first match,
Puskás began with a goal in the first twelve minutes (against the Austrian
team, 20 August 1945), only to score a further 84 points in the following
85 clashes. With this, he set a fantastic world record - amazing,
considering that in the second half of his career, he was simply unable to
play on the Hungary's Eleven Best on account of the political situation.
In the course of taking the field 529 times for top championship matches,
he shot 514 goals! In the 349 games he played in Kispest and Honvéd
colours, he succeeded in scoring 358 times. In Madrid, his performance was
a hair weaker. He was over thirty, playing on the world's best team, and
he had lain inactive for two years due to the FIFA ban - still, within 180
championships, he managed 156 goals.
From every rival league, Puskás faced fearsome competitors, but besides
this, he was named top scorer four times, both at home and abroad. At the
very least, he managed to do so with 20 goals; however, another year he
came up with 50!
In the European Championship Cup, he was the best goal shooter in the
1959-60 series (with 12 goals), and he tied for best four years later (with
7). For the most part, he was the key figure in the following two finales,
even though both these matches rank among football history's most famous
finals. In 1960, in Glasgow, he himself shot four goals against Eintracht
Frankfurt, winning the match 7-3 (a record ever since); while, in 1962, he
scored all three goals for Real Madrid in the course of their defeat by
Benfica (3-5). He was 35 at the time, but even three years later, it was
no problem for him to shoot four goals in a European Championship Cup
match against Feyenoord.
Therefore, let us say, that if the goal is most important in football,
then Ferenc Puskás was football history's greatest player.
1 April 1927: Ferenc (Purczeld) Puskás is born. His nickname: Buddy.
1938: At 11 years of age, Puskás is inducted, one year before the
authorized age, under the name of Miklós Kovács, into Kispest AC,
Hungary's only football club (together, of course, with its legal
successor Budapest Honvéd).
1943: On 5 December, at 16 years of age, he premiered in the
forefront against Diósgyőr. Later, against Kolozsvár, he scored his first
1945: On 20 August, he made his debut in the Hungarian National
Team against Austria, taking the lead in the first twelve minutes. The
match ended in a 5-2 victory for Hungary.
1948: In this year, he garnered his first Top Scorer title in
Hungary with 50 goals.
1950: In April, he married the 18-year-old Erzsébet Hunyadvári.
1952: In this year, Puskás's daughter Anikó was born, the very same
year that Ferenc Puskás, Sr., died - not living long enough to see his son,
as team captain of Hungary's Best Eleven, receiving the gold medal at the
1953: On 25 November, in the "Match of the Century", Hungary reaped
a 6-3 victory against England, and Puskás scored two goals. His
accomplishments, however, began earlier that spring with a 3-0 defeat of
Italy's team in Rome. During that match, Puskás shot two successful goals.
1954: While, in the spring, the Hungarian National Team put to
shame the English arriving for a rematch in People's Stadium (7-1, two of
the goals being Puskás's), and despite their being the favourites to win
in the World Championship in Switzerland; after their many triumphs, the
team suffered a 3-2 defeat at the hands of West Germany. Puskás, who had
been injured a long time, returned for the final and scored one official
goal, as well as another that (though legitimate) was disqualified.
1956: Puskás played for the last time on the Hungarian National
Team. The Honvéd team left the country in the days of the revolution, so
they could prepare for the European Cup match against Bilbao in a safe
place. At home, nevertheless, the situation did not quiet down. A new wave
of occupying Soviets bloodily suppressed the revolution.
1957: His last matches with the Honvéd club took place in the frame
of a South American tour banned from home. The International Football
Association (FIFA) - under pressure from the Hungarian Football
Association (MLSZ) - banned him from paying football anywhere in the world
for two years, because he had abandoned his homeland.
1958: On the advice of technical manager Emil Östricher, Real
Madrid - believed to be the world's best team at that time, and holders of
the European Championship Cup - placed Puskás under contract, while he was
overweight and running into debt. He played again in the autumn of that
year, the ban having been moderated.
1959: Puskás's first European Cup victory, although, it is true, he
did not take the field.
1960: In what is considered to be the greatest cup final of all
time, Puskás himself scored four goals in the European Cup finale in
Glasgow (Real - Eintracht, 7-3), becoming a European Cup champion for the
second time. He was also the top scorer in the series. He shot two goals
in the World Cup final (Real - Penarol, 5-1). At the end of the year, he
came in second in France Football's election for the Golden Ball Award,
and that is because, under political pressure, a few Eastern European
voters (among them, the Hungarian voter) would not place him in the top
1961: He received his first Spanish championship and second Spanish
1967: At forty years of age, he concluded his career on the field -
already a six-time Spanish champion, a four-time top scorer, and a
three-time European Cup winner. He began his coaching career this year -
first as a trainer for Deportivo Alavés for a few months, then for the
Canadian Vancouver Royals.
1969: For his official farewell from Real Madrid, club leader
Santiago Bernabéu bestowed upon him all the proceeds from their match
against Rapid Wien.
1971: Ferenc Puskás lead the Greek league Panathinaikos, mostly
made up of amateurs, to the European Cup finals. Still, they suffered a
2-0 defeat in Wembley Stadium, at the hands of Ajax, then at top form.
1973: Puskás's first grandchild, Elisabeth Damborena Puskás, is
born; then, two years later, his second, Réka Damborena Puskás.
1981: After protracted negotiations and a lengthy permit process,
Puskás returns home for the first time since emigrating, for the sake of
filming the Golden Team documentary and the "old boys" match in People's
Stadium. He was coach for a club in Egypt at the time.
1992: Ferenc Puskás and his wife settled in Hungary for good,
although they regularly visited their relatives in Spain.
1993: For no more than four matches, he was league captain for the
Hungarian National Team. He received the highest possible distinction in
Hungary, the Hungarian Republic's Cross of Honour.
1996: He is named the century's top scorer by IFFHS.
2000: Puskás Ferenc is admitted to the hospital on account of
illness and undergoes intensive care. In the meantime, readers of Nemzeti
Sport (National Sports) vote him Sportsman of the Century.
2001: Voters on the internet select him as best Real Madrid player
2002: On the occasion of his 75th birthday, the government decides
to rename People's Stadium after him. The ceremonial act takes places in
August during a match against the Spanish.
2004: The Hungarian government names him "Sportsman of the Nation".
2005: Real Madrid makes an appearance in Budapest in his honour.
2006: After his long-standing illness and six years of hospital
treatment, Ferenc Puskás dies.