Friday, November 17, 2006
Hungary legend Puskas dies
Real Madrid have expressed their 'profound sadness' at the death of footballing great Ferenc Puskas.
The Hungary legend, nicknamed the 'Galloping Major', lost his long fight against pneumonia on Friday after spending the last two months in intensive care at a Budapest hospital.Puskas spent nine years at Real, forming a deadly double-act with Alfredo di Stefano and winning five Spanish titles and three European Cups.'The Madridista family feel a profound sadness for the loss of one of their greatest legends,' Real's statement read.Club president Calderon Ramon added: 'This is one of the saddest days for the Madrid fans, I can assure you that it is the most painful day since I took the presidency.'He had many friends and was a man liked by everyone, admired as a professional and a person.'I will remember his goals with much affection, he was the pichichi (top scorer in Spain) on four occasions.'The Madrid fans in general, and those of my age in particular, will feel a great emptiness for the loss of one our childhood heroes. I want to send a big hug to his all of his family and friends in these very painful moments.'Puskas' finest hour arguably came in the 1960 European Cup final when he scored four times to help Real beat Einctracht Frankfurt 7-3 at Hampden Park.But he will also be remembered in Britain for being part of Hungary's golden team of the 1950s - known as the 'Magical Magyars' - which became the first side to beat England at Wembley when they sent shockwaves through the game with a 6-3 victory in November 1953.Former England international Jimmy Hill, who attended that game, was one the first to pay tribute to Puskas.He told Sky Sports News: 'It took my breath away to see someone who could manipulate a football and play passing movements against an England team and beat them 6-3.'It was just quite staggering. I paid my own money to go and I was only a supporter but it took my breath away that a country could produce 11 players like that and one stood out above the rest.'He wasn't six foot and the most athletic footballer you've ever seen. He didn't stand out as a figure on the field except when the ball came to him.'He had such control of it with his skill. He could make long, accurate passes and could shoot and score goals.'It was clearly something quite spectacular that a country like Hungary had suddenly got the quality of players like that and why we had got so far behind.'In England, we didn't seem to have players of that calibre.'Puskas' international goalscoring record was truly remarkable.In 84 matches for Hungary between 1945 and 1956, he scored 83 times, including two goals in the Magical Magyars' famous match against England.He also starred in a subsequent 7-1 win in Budapest which saw Hungary made favourites for the 1954 World Cup.However, an injury limited his impact in Switzerland and the Magyars lost in the final to Germany.He won the nickname the 'Galloping Major' after serving in the Hungarian Army.Puskas went on to enjoy unprecedented success at Real Madrid, where he and Alfredo di Stefano were the cornerstone of a succession of domestic and European glories.He scored four goals in Real's 7-3 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in a remarkable final at Hampden Park in 1960, and won the European Cup three times in all.He scored 512 goals in 528 matches for Real and in 1962 he took out Spanish citizenship in time to play for his adopted country at the 1962 World Cup.He went on to manage a number of teams, the highlight of which was leading Panathinaikos to the 1971 European Cup final was in the last six years was confined to hospital with Alzheimer's disease.