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Good Bye Great Puskas!

I didn’t put this news in immediately, because I had the desire to write something more about the soccer legend who recently passed away.

Ferenc Puskas.

He left us at the age of 79, after having put his indelible mark in the soccer history of a few decades ago.

He his considered the best Hungarian soccer player ever. He was born in Budapest in 1927. At 16 years old he played for the Kispest team, coached by his father. In 1948 debuted on the national team. At 21 years old!!!!!

That year he moved to Honved , the Hungarian Army team and scored 50 goals. Yes, the number is correct. He scored fifty goals in a season!!!!
Instead of getting rich, he began to climb the army hierarchy. Captain, major and finally, colonel!

Even if, apparently, he had a great limitation in his soccer skills, he was left footed and almost never used his right, in 1952 he guided the National team to win the Gold medal at the Olympic Games of Helsinki, beating Yugoslavia, 2-0. The fact that he was left footed, permitted him to gravitate and succeed in a soccer area that is often forgotten. I’ll write soon about the gift of being a left footer!

The Hungarians played a new magical soccer. The passing game. They ‘destroyed’ England, in their soccer temple at home, Wembley, by beating them 6-3. Puskas scored 2 goals while Hidegkuty, another Hungarian legend, scored 3. In the revenge match at home, as the 6-3 wasn’t enough, they beat England 7-1!!!!

On that national team, which taught the world a new way to play soccer, Puskas scored 83 goals in 84 games.

At 30 years old, he decided to leave the army team of Hungary and make some ‘real’ money. He moved to Italy, in Bordighera, and looked for a professional engagement. The new Hungarian government disbanded Honved so the Italian teams couldn’t engage him. The offer came from Spain in the name of General Franco. He didn’t care about FIFA’s veto and Real Madrid engaged Puskas.

Puskas asked the Real Madrid President, Santiago Bernabeu, to be a little patient, because he was over weight. Like Ronaldo today. History always repeats itself. Same team, different player, same problem!

He played until 39 years old and with Real Madrid won 5 Championships, CONSECUTIVELY !!!! From 1961 to 65. For 4 times consecutively he was the best scorer.

On May 18 1960, at Hampden Park in Glasgow, 135,000 spectators, yes you read correctly this time too, one hundred thirty five thousand spectators, in the Champion Cup final, the actual Champions League, Real Madrid beat Eintract of Frankfurt. Puskas, 33 years old, scored 4 goals, Di Stefano 3. Final score? 7-3. Germans ‘destroyed‘!

In 1966, Colonel Ferenc Puskas retired from soccer. His financial situation, thanks to good investments made in Spain was really good. He tried a coaching career. Not to much glory, besides the 1970/71 season in which he guided the Greeks of Panathinaikos to the Champions Cup Final against Ajax. They lost 2-0.

After many years he decided to go back to Hungary. He was received as a National Hero! In 2000 he recovered in a clinic from Alzheimer disease. The news, as often happened in the past in totalitarian countries, was denied by the doctors.

In 2002, on the occasion of his 75th birthday, the Government decided to name the principal stadium in Budapest after him: the “Nepstadion”. The stadium of the people. From that moment would by called: “Ferenc Puskas Stadium” . The ’colonel’ was there and even kicked the ball around with 75 kids that were there for the occasion. At a certain moment they stopped and, together with the other tens of thousands of spectators in the stadium, applauded him. He cried like a baby, really moved.

He is a living legend even though he is not physically with us anymore. His left kick can only be compared to that of Maradona. Many experts consider Puskas the best kicker ever. Many of you are too young, so you can’t remember that in the past the best kickers could even injure keepers hands, kicking from outside the big box. Jose Altafini, one time, broke the cross bar!!!! Sure, it was in wood and not in aluminum, but this takes nothing away from the power! I’ve heard keepers complaining many times about the power of the shoots that have hurt their hands.

Not only power, but precision, too. Luisito Suarez remembers that he saw Puskas at practice, trying to hit the post from 20 yards away. Remember that the big box line is 18 yards away from the goal. He hit the posts 18 times out of 20!!!!! This his a lot more than the ridiculous Ronaldinho commercial in which it seems he hits the cross bar 5 times consecutively. Electronic tricks and special effects, weren’t invented yet, 40 years ago.

In his career he played 1,200 games and scored 418 goals.

Thanks very much ‘colonel’ Puskas, for having shown us the ‘magic’ of your left foot.

Coach Gianni

Posted on 21 Dec 2006 by coachgianni
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