Ferenc Puskas Profile
|Born||Apr 01, 1927|
|Died||Nov 26, 2006|
Ferenc Puskas is widely regarded as one of the best soccer players of all-time and the sport's first international superstar.
As a striker, he scored 84 goals in 85 international matches for Hungary, making him the most prolific goalscorer in his country's history. Puskas also played four international matches for Spain and scored 514 goals in 529 matches in the Hungarian and Spanish leagues.
He became an Olympic champion in 1952 and led his nation to the final of the 1954 World Cup. He won three European Cups in 1959, 1960 and 1966, 10 national championships (five Hungarian and five Spanish Primera Division) and eight individual scoring honours.
He scored 806 goals in 793 matches and sits fourth in the all-time list of goalscorers.
During the 1950s, he was captain of the Hungarian national team. In 1958, two years after the Hungarian Revolution, he emigrated to Spain where he played for Real Madrid.
While playing for Los Blancos, Puskas won four Pichichis and scored seven goals in two European Champions Cup finals.
In October 2009, FIFA announced the introduction of the FIFA Puskas Award, given to the player who has scored the "most beautiful goal" over the past year.
Puskas was born on the outskirts of the Hungarian capital of Budapest, in the district of Kispest. He began his career as a junior with Kispest AC where his father was coach, making his first senior appearance in November 1943.
In 1949, the area was taken over by the Hungarian Ministry of Defence, becoming the Hungarian Army team and being renamed Budapest Honved. As the army club, Honved used conscription to acquire the best Hungarian players, making them the strongest team in the country.
During his career at Budapest Honved, Puskas helped the club win five Hungarian League titles. He also finished as top goalscorer in the league in 1947/48, 1949/50, 1950 and 1953, scoring 50, 31, 25 and 27 goals, respectively.
The striker would go on to make 85 appearances for his national team, netting on 84 occasions. He recorded four hat-tricks - two against Austria, one versus Luxembourg and the other when he netted four goals against Albania in a 12-0 thrashing.
Hungary went on a 32-game unbeaten run, which included the 1952 Olympics where they won the gold medal. Puskas scored four goals at the tournament, including the opener in the final.
Soon after, they beat England twice in quick succession, 6-3 and 7-1, with Puskas scoring twice in both of the matches. The results sent shockwaves through the game and helped give rise to the nickname, the Mighty Magyars.
In 1953, they also became Central European Champions.
Hungary won the championship after finishing top of the table with 11 points. Puskas finished the tournament as top scorer with 10 goals and scored twice in the final as Hungary claimed the trophy with a 3-0 win over Italy at the Stadio Olimpico.
After scoring three goals in two games for Hungary in the 1954 World Cup, Puskas did not return to the side until the final. Having recovered from a hairline fracture of his ankle, Puskas opened the scoring against West Germany.
However despite Hungary doubling their advantage, the Germans made a sensational comeback to win 3-2. Puskas had a goal ruled out to deny his side an equaliser with little time remaining.
Controversy followed as Puskas fled from Hungary because of the revolution. After trying to find a club in Europe, he was banned by UEFA for two years for not returning to Hungary.
At the age of 31, he signed for Real Madrid.
Puskas could not stop scoring and formed a formidable partnership with Alfredo Di Stefano. In eight seasons in Madrid, the striker 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 (1960, 1961, 1963, and 1964). He also helped his club win the league five seasons in a row between 1961 and 1965.
In European competition, Puskas was just as deadly with 35 goals in only 39 appearances. In the 1960 final, Real beat Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3 with Puskas scoring four goals and di Stefano adding the other three.
He also scored a hat-trick in the 1962 final against Portuguese giants Benfica, but his Madrid team were on the wrong side of a 5-3 scoreline.
Puskas became a Spanish citizen in 1962 and played four games for their national team, with three of those coming at the 1962 World Cup, aged 35.
After retiring as a player, Puskas became a coach and managed teams in Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia. His managerial career, though, did not hit the same heights as his playing days.
In 1971, he guided Panathinaikos of Greece to the European Cup final - the only time a Greek club has reached a European showpiece.
He guided the Greek side to the league title in 1972, but his only other silverware as a manager came in 1991 when he won Australia's National Soccer League with South Melbourne Hellas.
Puskas also took charge of the Hungarian national side in 1993 for four matches.
Puskas returned to Hungary in 1981 and back to Budapest in 1990.
He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2000 and in 2006 he was admitted to hospital before dying of pneumonia. He was survived by both his wife Erzsebet and their daughter Aniko Puskas.
Puskas left behind an incredible legacy and his name will live on, with the award for best goal in the world named after him as well as Hungary's national stadium, the Puskas Arena.