Ferenc Puskás

Ferenc Puskás (Hungarian pronunciation: [ˈfɛrɛnt͡s ˈpuʃkaːʃ], UK: /ˌfɛrɛnts ˈpʊʃkəʃ, ˈpʊʃkæʃ/ FERR-ents PUUSH-kəsh, PUUSH-kash;[2][3][4] born Ferenc Purczeld;[1] 1 April 1927 – 17 November 2006) was a Hungarian football player and manager, widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time and the sport's first international superstar.[5] A forward, he scored 84 goals in 85 international matches for Hungary and played four international matches for Spain. He became an Olympic champion in 1952 and led his nation to the final of the 1954 World Cup. He won three European Cups (1959, 1960, 1966), ten national championships (five Hungarian and five Spanish Primera División) and eight top individual scoring honors. In 1995, he was recognized as the greatest top division scorer of the 20th century by the IFFHS.[6][7][8] With 806 goals in 793 official games scored during his career, he is the sixth top goalscorer of all time.[9] He also has at least 362 assists, which is the second most in history behind Pelé.

Ferenc Puskás
Ferenc Puskás (cropped).jpg
Puskás as Panathinaikos manager in 1971
Personal information
Birth name Ferenc Purczeld[1]
Date of birth (1927-04-01)1 April 1927
Place of birth Budapest, Hungary
Date of death 17 November 2006(2006-11-17) (aged 79)
Place of death Budapest, Hungary
Height 1.72 m (5 ft 8 in)
Position(s) Forward, attacking midfielder
Youth career
1940–1943 Kispest Honvéd
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1943–1956 Budapest Honvéd[i] 356 (375)
1958–1966 Real Madrid 262 (244)
Total 618 (619)
National team
1945–1956 Hungary 85 (84)
1961–1962 Spain 4 (0)
1963 Madrid 1 (2)
Teams managed
1966–1967 Hércules
1967 San Francisco Golden Gate Gales
1968 Vancouver Royals
1968–1969 Alavés
1970–1974 Panathinaikos
1975 Real Murcia
1975–1976 Colo-Colo
1976–1977 Saudi Arabia
1978–1979 AEK Athens
1979–1982 Al Masry
1985–1986 Sol de América
1986–1989 Cerro Porteño
1989–1992 South Melbourne Hellas
1993 Hungary
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

He was the son of former footballer Ferenc Puskás Senior. Puskás started his career in Hungary playing for Kispest and Budapest Honvéd. He was the top scorer in the Hungarian League on four occasions and in 1948 he was the top goal scorer in Europe. During the 1950s, he was both a prominent member and captain of the Hungarian national team, known as the Mighty Magyars. In 1958, two years after the Hungarian Revolution, he emigrated to Spain where he played for Real Madrid. While playing with Real Madrid, Puskás won four Pichichis and scored seven goals in two European Champions Cup finals. He scored 618 goals in 619 matches in the Hungarian and Spanish leagues and National Cups.

After retiring as a player, he became a coach. The highlight of his coaching career came in 1971 when he guided Panathinaikos to the European Cup final, where they lost 2–0 to AFC Ajax. In 1993, he returned to Hungary and took temporary charge of the Hungarian national team.[10] In 1998, he became one of the first ever FIFA/SOS Charity ambassadors.[11] In 2002, the Népstadion in Budapest was renamed the Puskás Ferenc Stadion in his honor.[12] He was also declared the best Hungarian player of the last 50 years by the Hungarian Football Federation in the UEFA Jubilee Awards in November 2003.[13] In October 2009, FIFA announced the introduction of the FIFA Puskás Award, awarded to the player who has scored the "most beautiful goal" over the past year. He was also listed in Pelé's FIFA 100.

Career in HungaryEdit

Early yearsEdit

Puskás and Ger Lagendijk, manager and player of the Vancouver Royals, February 1968

Ferenc Purczeld was born on 1 April 1927[14] to a German (Danube Swabian) family in Budapest and brought up in Kispest, then a suburb, today part of the city. His mother, Margit Biró (1904–1976), was a seamstress. He began his career as a junior with Kispest AC,[12] where his father, who had previously played for the club, was a coach.

He changed his name to Ferenc Puskás. He initially used the pseudonym "Miklós Kovács" to help circumvent the minimum age rules[15] before officially signing at the age of 12. Among his early teammates was his childhood friend and future international teammate József Bozsik. He made his first senior appearance for Kispest in November 1943 in a match against Nagyváradi AC.[16] It was here where he received the nickname "Öcsi" or "Buddy".[17]

Kispest was taken over by the Hungarian Ministry of Defence in 1949, becoming the Hungarian Army team and changing its name to Budapest Honvéd. As a result, football players were given military ranks. Puskás eventually became a major (Hungarian: Őrnagy), which led to the nickname "The Galloping Major".[18] As the army club, Honvéd used conscription to acquire the best Hungarian players leading to the recruitment of Zoltán Czibor and Sándor Kocsis.[19] During his career at Budapest Honvéd, Puskás helped the club win five Hungarian League titles. He also finished as top goal scorer in the league in 1947–48, 1949–50, 1950 and 1953, scoring 50, 31, 25 and 27 goals, respectively. In 1948, he was the top goal scorer in Europe.[20]

Mighty MagyarsEdit

Puskás made his debut for Hungary team on 20 August 1945 and scored in a 5–2 win over Austria.[21] He went on to play 85 games and scored 84 times for Hungary. His international goal record included two hat tricks against Austria, one against Luxembourg and four goals in a 12–0 win over Albania.[22] Together with Zoltán Czibor, Sándor Kocsis, József Bozsik, and Nándor Hidegkuti, he formed the nucleus of the Golden Team that was to remain unbeaten for 32 consecutive games.[23] During this run, they became Olympic Champions in 1952, beating Yugoslavia 2–0 in the final in Helsinki. Puskás scored four times at the Olympic tournament,[22] including the opening goal in the final. They also defeated England twice, first with a 6–3 win at Wembley Stadium.,[21] and then 7–1 in Budapest. Puskás scored two goals in each game against England. In 1953, they also won the 1948-53 Central European International Cup. Hungary won the championship after finishing top of the table with 11 points. Puskás finished the tournament as top scorer with ten goals and scored twice as Hungary claimed the trophy with a 3–0 win over Italy at the Stadio Olimpico in 1953.[citation needed]

Puskás scored three goals in the two first-round matches Hungary played at the 1954 FIFA World Cup. They defeated South Korea 9–0 and then West Germany 8–3. In the latter game, he suffered a hairline fracture of the ankle after a tackle by Werner Liebrich, and did not return until the final.[citation needed]

Puskás played the entire 1954 World Cup final against West Germany with a hairline fracture. Despite this, he scored his fourth goal of the tournament to put Hungary ahead after six minutes, and with Czibor adding another goal two minutes later, it seemed that the pre-tournament favorites would take the title. However, the West Germans pulled back two goals before half time, with six minutes left the West Germans scored the winner. Two minutes from the end of the match Puskás scored a late equalizer but the goal was disallowed due to an offside call.[24] Ending the Golden years with a silver medal at the 1955-60 Central European International Cup, making it a grand total of two gold/titles and two silver for the Mighty Magyars.

Ferenc Puskás’ statistics at the 1952 Helsinki OlympicsEdit

The scores contain links to the article on football in the Helsinki Olympics and the round in question.[25]

Game no. Round Date Opponent Puskás’ playing time Score Puskás’ goals Score Times Venue Report
1 Prel. R. 15 July 1952   Romania 90 min. 2–1 (1–0) 0 Kupittaa, Turku [26]
2 1st R 21 July 1952   Italy 90 min. 3–0 (2–0) 0 Pallokenttä, Helsinki [27]
3 QF 24 July 1952   Turkey 90 min 7–1 (2–0) 2 4–0
Urheilukeskus, Kotka [28]
4 SF 28 July 1952   Sweden 90 min 6–0 (3–0) 1 1–0   1' Helsinki Olympic Stadium [29]
5 Final 2 August 1952   Yugoslavia 90 min 2–0 (0–0) 1 1–0   70' Helsinki Olympic Stadium [30]

Ferenc Puskás’ statistics at the 1954 World Cup in SwitzerlandEdit

The scores contain links to the article on 1954 FIFA World Cup and the round in question. When there is a special article on the match in question, the link is in the column for round.

Game no. Round Date Opponent Puskás’ playing time Score Puskás’ goals Score Times Venue Report
1 Group 2 17 June 1954   South Korea 90 min. 9–0 (4–0) 2 1–0
Hardturm Stadium, Zürich [31]
2 Group 2 20 June 1954   West Germany 90 min 8–3 (3–1) 1 2–0   17' St. Jakob Stadium, Basel [32]
QF 27 June 1954   Brazil Did not play 4–2 (2–1) 0 Wankdorf Stadium, Bern [33]
SF 30 June 1954   Uruguay Did not play 4–2 (a.e.t.)
(2–2, 1–0)
0 Stade Olympique de la Pontaise, Lausanne [34]
3 Final 4 July 1954   West Germany 90 min 2–3 (2–2) 1 1–0   6' Wankdorf Stadium, Bern [35]

Honvéd World TourEdit

Nándor Hidegkuti and Ferenc Puskás in 1954

Budapest Honvéd entered the European Cup in 1956 and were drawn against Atlético Bilbao in the first round. Honvéd lost the away leg 2–3, but before the home leg could be played, the Hungarian Revolution erupted in Budapest. The players decided against going back to Hungary and arranged for the return with Atlético to be played at Heysel Stadium in Brussels, Belgium.[23] Puskás scored in the subsequent 3–3 draw but Honvéd were eliminated 6–5 on aggregate, and the Hungarian players were left in limbo. They summoned[clarification needed] their families from Budapest, and despite opposition from FIFA and the Hungarian football authorities, they organised a fundraising tour of Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Brazil. After returning to Europe, the players parted ways. Some, including Bozsik, returned to Hungary while others, including Czibor, Kocsis and Puskás, found new clubs in Western Europe.[36] Puskás did not return to Hungary until 1981.[37]

Spanish careerEdit

In Spain he is known also under the nickname of Pancho.

Real MadridEdit

Ferenc Puskás with Alfredo Di Stéfano
Puskás's player licence, showing his mother's maiden name Biró as a second surname in accordance with Spanish naming customs

After refusing to return to Hungary, Puskás initially played a few unofficial games for RCD Espanyol.[citation needed] At the same time, both AC Milan and Juventus attempted to sign him, but then he received a two-year ban from UEFA for refusing to return to Budapest,[38] which prevented him from playing in Europe. He moved to Austria and then Italy.[23] After his ban expired, Puskás tried to play in Italy but was not able to find a top-flight club willing to sign him, as Italian managers were concerned about his age and weight.[19] He was considered by Manchester United to strengthen a squad ravaged by the Munich Air Disaster in 1958, but because of FA rules regarding foreigners and Puskás' not knowing the English language, stand-in manager Jimmy Murphy could not fulfill his wish of signing the Hungarian. However, a few months later, Puskás joined Real Madrid and at the age of 31 embarked on the second phase of his career.[citation needed]

During his first La Liga season, Puskás scored four hat-tricks, including one in his second game, against Sporting de Gijón on 21 September 1958. In the game against UD Las Palmas on 4 January 1959, Puskás and Alfredo di Stéfano scored hat-tricks in a 10–1 win.[39] During the 1960–61 season, Puskás scored four times in a game against Elche CF and the following season, he scored five goals against the same team. Puskás scored two hat-tricks against FC Barcelona in 1963, one at the Bernabéu and one at the Camp Nou. During eight seasons with Real, Puskás played 180 La Liga games and scored 156 goals. He scored 20 or more goals in each of his first six seasons in the Spanish league, and won the Pichichi four times: in 1960, 1961, 1963, and 1964, scoring 25, 28, 26 and 21 goals, respectively. He helped Real win La Liga five times in a row between 1961 and 1965 and the Copa del Generalísimo in 1962. He scored both goals in the 2–1 victory over Sevilla FC in the Copa final.[citation needed]

Puskás also played a further 39 games for Real in the European Cup, scoring 35 goals. He helped Real reach the final of the 1959 European Cup, scoring in the first leg and in the decisive replay of the semi-final against Atlético Madrid, but missed the final due to injury. In the following season he began Real's 1960 European Cup campaign with a hat-trick against Jeunesse Esch and in the semi-final against FC Barcelona, he once again guided Real into the final with three goals over two legs. In the final itself, Real beat Eintracht Frankfurt 7–3 with Puskás scoring four goals[12] and di Stéfano scoring three. In subsequent European campaigns, he would score a further three hat-tricks, including one in the 1962 final against Benfica, which Real lost 5–3. In 1965, he scored five goals over two games against Feyenoord as he helped Real Madrid to the 1966 European Cup final – Real won the game against Partizan Belgrade, but Puskás did not play in the final.[citation needed]

Spanish national appearancesEdit

In 1962, Puskás was naturalized a Spanish citizen,[40] and subsequently played four times for Spain. Three of these games were at the 1962 World Cup. In Spain he was known as Cañoncito Pum (the booming cannon).[37]

Appearance for Madrid autonomous teamEdit

On 28 October 1963, Puskás appeared in a game for the Madrid football team at the FFM Trofeo Bodas de Oro, and he scored two late goals in a 4-0 win over Andalusia.[41]

Appearance for South LiverpoolEdit

In 1967, at the age of 40, he appeared in a fundraising friendly game for South Liverpool, the English non-League side, in front of a 10,000-strong sell-out crowd at the club's Holly Park stadium.[42]

Managerial careerEdit

Statue of Ferenc Puskás in Budapest inspired by a photograph taken in Madrid in which the legendary player was teaching an ad hoc course in keepie uppie to street children

After retiring as a player, Puskás became a coach and managed teams in Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia.

In 1971, he guided Panathinaikos of Greece to the European Cup final, the only time a Greek club has reached a European final to date. In the qualifying rounds they beat Everton in the quarter-finals on away goals, then defeated Red Star Belgrade in the semis. In the final Panathinaikos lost 2–0 to Johan Cruyff's Ajax.[43] During his four-year tenure at Panathinaikos, Puskás helped the team secure one Greek Championship in 1972. However, with the notable exception of his spell at Panathinaikos, Puskás failed to transfer his success as a player to his coaching career. Despite his wide travels, his only other success came with South Melbourne Hellas, with whom he won the National Soccer League title in 1991, as well as an NSL Cup in 1990 and two Dockerty Cup titles in 1989 and 1991.[44] While managing the Australian club, one of his players was future Australia and Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou, who has spoken of the influence Puskas' all out attacking approach had on his coaching style. [45]

When Wolverhampton Wanderers opened their renovated stadium Molineux in 1993, Puskás visited the newly opened stadium as an honorary guest to watch the friendly match between Wolves and Budapest Honvéd, which was a match to christen the new opening of the stadium. This was because in the 1950s, Wolves played a game against Honvéd in a memorable friendly match, which Puskás played in. Wolves won the 1954 match 3–2, with the 1993 match ending in a 1–1 draw.[citation needed]

Puskás returned to Hungary for the first time in 1981 and in 1990, he made Budapest his home again.[37] In 1993, he took charge of the Hungary national team for four games, including a 4–2 friendly victory against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin, where Hungary came from two goals down to eventually beat their opponents.[46]

Style of playEdit

Puskas had amazing ball control, mostly controlled the ball with his left foot, and had a great first touch of the ball giving very quick and precise passing and crossing. He also was able to maneuver and change positions quickly on the pitch quickly moving from inside left to centre forward. He was also able to dummy his opponents with fake dribbles and would confuse his markers by pretending to go one way and Puskas would go the other way and leave opposition players behind, most notably he did this to Bill Eckersley and Harry Johnston when Hungary beat England 6-3 at Wembley. Puskas also used to move the ball in different directions and sideways with the ball at his feet to go past his opponents with ease leave his markers tackling air, most notably when he dragged the ball back past Billy Wright and scored in the 6-3 win for Hungary against England and against Italy in 1953 when Puskas touched the ball forward leaving Italian player Pietro Grosso also tackling thin air to score in a 3-0 win for Hungary. Puskas was also an excellent set piece taker often scoring free-kicks with powerful direct shooting. Puskas also scored directly from a corner kick. Puskas had have one of the most powerful left shots in history and often scored from 30-35 metres from goal.

Later life and deathEdit

Puskás's tomb at the St. Stephen's Basilica in Budapest

Puskás was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2000.[47] He was admitted to a Budapest hospital in September 2006[48] and died on 17 November 2006[47] of pneumonia. He was 79 years old and was survived by his wife of 57 years, Erzsébet,[49] and their daughter, Anikó.[50] In a state funeral, his coffin was moved from Puskás Ferenc Stadion to Heroes' Square for a military salute. He was buried under the dome of the St Stephen's Basilica in Budapest on 9 December 2006.[citation needed]



Career statisticsEdit


Appearances and goals by club, season and competition[59]
Club Season All Competitions
Apps Goals Assists
Budapesti Honvéd SE[a] 1943-44 18 7 2
1945 21 10 14
1945-46 34 36 15
1946–47 29 32 7
1947-48 31 50 9
1948-49 28 46 3
1949-50 30 31 18
1950 15 25 8
1951 23 25 14
1952 26 22 17
1953 29 39 32
1954 20 21 10
1955 36 25 31
1956 16 6 5
Total 356 375 185
Real Madrid 1958-59 34 25 17
1959-60 36 49 26
1960-61 41 44 23
1961-62 40 40 14
1962-63 39 31 18
1963-64 33 28 12
1964-65 25 17 9
1965-66 14 10 4
Total 262 244 123
Total 618 619 308
  1. ^ Before 1950 the club name was Kispesti A.C.


Appearances and goals by national team and year[60][61][62]
National team Year Apps Goals Assists G+A
Hungary 1945 2 3 1 2.00
1946 3 3 2 1.67
1947 5 5 1 1.20
1948 6 7 6 2.17
1949 8 11 8 2.38
1950 6 12 3 2.50
1951 3 4 4 2.33
1952 12 10 13 1.92
1953 7 6 5 1.57
1954 11 8 6 1.27
1955 12 10 5 1.25
1956 10 5 0 0.50
Total 85 84 54 1.62
Spain 1961 1 0 0 0.00
1962 3 0 0 0.00
Total 4 0 0 0.00

Managerial statisticsEdit

Managerial record by team and tenure
Team Nat From To Record Ref
G W D L Win %
Panathinaikos   1 July 1970 4 September 1974 170 109 32 29 064.12
AEK   11 June 1978 17 March 1979 31 19 6 6 061.29
Hungary   9 April 1993 22 June 1993 4 1 0 3 025.00



Budapest Honvéd

Real Madrid





Sol de América

South Melbourne Hellas

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Before 1950 the club name was Kispesti A.C.


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  • (Autobiography) Ferenc Puskas: Captain of Hungary: Ferenc Puskas (1955). Reprinted in 2007 [1]
  • Behind the Curtain — Travels in Eastern European Football: Jonathan Wilson (2006) [2]
  • The World Cup — The Complete History: Terry Crouch (2002) [3]
  • 50 Years of the European Cup and Champions League: Keir Radnedge (2005) [4]
  • Obituary in The Guardian by Brian Glanville, 18 November 2006

External linksEdit