The squad

All-star squad

Shirt number 22 Hungarian/Spanish flags



Full name: Ferenc Puskas
Date of birth: 02/04/1927
Position: Forward
International caps: 84 (Hungary)
4 (Spain)
International goals: 83 (Hungary)
0 (Spain)
World Cups: 1954 - Runners-up (Hungary)
1962 - First Round (Spain)
Clubs: Kipest Honved
Real Madrid

Ferenc Puskas was incomparable to any other footballer of his time: he was extravagantly talented and an inspirational player. He was also a bull of a forward and had a devastating left-foot shot, although this was famously his only foot and suprisingly, he couldn't head the ball either. Nicknamed the "Galloping Major", because of his ersatz rank in the army, things always happened around him when he played.

In 1943, Puskas made his debut for the local club Kispest Honved in Budapest, with whom he won five Hungarian league championships, was top scorer in four seasons (including top scorer in any European league in 1948 with 50 goals) and scored an outstanding 357 goals in 349 games. At the age of 18, in 1945, he played his first game for Hungary.

Puskas leads out Hungary against England

Puskas was soon made Hungary's captain and the "Magical Magyars" rampaged through all of their matches, scoring 121 goals in 30 games leading up to the 1954 World Cup. They crushed even the best teams - Czechoslovakia 5-0 and 5-1, Italy 3-0, Sweden 6-0 and England 6-3 at Wembley and 7-1 in Budepest. They had won the Olympic title in 1952 and the Dr Gero Cup (the forerunner to the European Championship). They were overwhelming favourites for the tournament in 1954 - nobody else came close.

Puskas was expected to make the 1954 tournament his own. He played in the first group game (a 9-0 thrashing of South Korea, where Puskas scored the first and last goals) and in the second (an 8-3 victory over West Germany), but an injured in the last 20 minutes of that game saw him miss the next two. Without their captain, Hungary managed to reach the final with wins over Brazil and defending champions Uruguay, and all the talk before the last game was whether Puskas would return, even though he was obviously still only half fit. The final was against West Germany, and Puskas did play, immediately answering his doubters by scoring after six minutes. Hungary went 2-0 up after eight minutes and it looked as if it would be a re-run of the group game. However, West Germany immediately replied and equalised in the 19th minute. Most of the rest of the match was one Hungarian attack after another. The Germans took the pressure, and with five minutes left, they scored: 3-2 to West Germany. In the dying seconds, Puskas ran onto a through ball and scored the equaliser, only for the Welsh linesman to rule it offside. This was the end of Hungary's invincibility and they have claims to the unwanted title of the best team never to win the World Cup.

Puskas in action

During the 1956 uprising in Hungary, Honved were out of the country playing in the European cup. After an improptu World Tour to avoid returning to Hungary, many players of the great team (such as Puskas, Kocsis and Czibor) moved elsewhere. Puskas moved to Spain, where he ended up partnering the great Alfredo Di Stefano up front for Real Madrid. Puskas helped his team to win five domestic league title, one Spanish cup (1962), three European Cups (1959, 1960, 1966) and the Intercontinental Cup in 1960. In the 1960 European Cup final, he scored four goals in Madrid's 7-3 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt, and in 1966, he scored five goals over two games to beat Feyenoord in the European Cup final.

In 1962, aged 36, Puskas scored a hat-trick in the European Cup final against Benfica, only for Madrid to lose 5-3. Puskas briefly resurrected his international career in that year, by playing for his adopted Spain in the World Cup. He played in all three group games, but it wasn't to be, and Spain went out in the first round, having won one, lost two. Puskas scored 155 goals in 179 league games for Real Madrid, winning the Pichichi Trophy for top goalscorer on four occasions.

Puskas retired from playing in 1967, and began a career in coaching, taking control of teams in Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Asia and Australia. He steered South Melbourne Hellas to the Australian championship and Panathinaikos to two Greek league titles. However, the highlight of his coaching came in 1971 when he guided that Greek club to the European Cup final, the only time a club from the nation has ever reached a European final. They lost 2-0 to Johan Cruyff's Ajax

In 2001, the Hungarian national stadium was renamed in Puskas' honour. He passed away after a long battle with illness in 2006. In an acknowledgement to his popularity in Hungary, he received a state funeral, in which his coffin was moved from Stadium Puskas Ferenc to Heroes' Square for a military salute, and was finally laid to rest under the dome of the St Stephen's Basilica in Budapest.

Puskas' scoring record speaks for itself - 83 goals in 84 games for Hungary, a record that not even Pele could break.