Ferenc Puskas dies

The Galloping Major is dead . Yes friends, the legendary Hungarian striker Ferenc Puskas is no more. He died today at 6 am GMT in a Budapest hospital, having been in intensive care since the 13th of September. He was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease since the dawn of the 21st century.

The man is as revered in the world of soccer as Don Bradman in the game of cricket. He was born on the 2nd of April 1927. That year was also the year when Cardiff City won the FA Cup, the only non -English club to do so.  A possible indicator that the baby was definitely going to make waves in the footballing world.

Puskas started off with Hungarian club Kispest, which later became Honved after it was taken over the Hungarian ministry of Defence. He helped the club to 5 Hungarian league titles, and was top scorer in any league in Europe in1948 with 50 goals. He had a thunderous left foot which repeatedly found the back of the net, and his presence on the pitch always signalled trouble for opposition defenders.

Puskas scored on his national debut in a 5-2 win against Austria. He played 84 games and scored 83, averaging almost a goal a game. Along with Zoltan Czibor, Sandor Kocsis, Jozsef Bozsik, Puskas formed the core of the Hungarian team which dominated world football in the late fourties and early fifties. Their dazzling tyle of play led them to be called the Magic Magyars and they are widely regarded as the best team never to have won a World Cup. Puskas led his side to the gold medal in the 52 Olympics in Helsinki. The English team of the 50’s will not have too many fond memories of them for the Magic Magyars hammered them 6-3 and 7-1 in England, thereby becoming the first foreign team to beat England twice in their own den. They had an unbeaten 32 game run which was halted in the 1954 World Cup final where they lost to the Germans. Puskas , despite no being fully fit scored once, and had a goal disallowed 2 minutes before the final whistle.

The Hungarian revolution in 1956, just before the home leg against Athletic Bilbao in the first round of the European Cup made Puskas leave Hungary. He faced a FIFA ban for the next two years which made his few games played for Espanyol unofficial. At the age of 31, he joined the Los Merengues in Madrid. He and Alfredo di Stefano formed a lethal striking combination and opposition defenders ran for cover as goals started to rain for Real Madrid from all directions.

He scored 4 in the 1960 European cup final, a 7-3 win over German club Eimtracht Frankfurt, a game considered to be one of the best in European history. He won 4 ” Pichichis” for Real Madrid, and went on to become one of the club legends. He also scored 2 hattricks against the club’s most famous rival,FC Barcelona.

Puskas also played for Spain in the 1962 World Cup, where he did not manage to score.

Puskas guided Panathanaikos to the European Cup final in 1971 as manager, and also went on to coach his beloved Hungary.

He was voted as the 20th Century’s sixth best player by the International Federation for Footballing History and Statistics.

Adieu Puskas Ocsi…You will be forever in our hearts.

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