Generally considered Hungary’s finest ever player and one of the greatest footballers ever to grace the World Cup, Ferenc Puskas was the figurehead of the groundbreaking Hungary that dominated world football in the early 1950s.
But, the supreme prize of world champion would always elude this magnificent striker — particularly in the 1954 WC final in Berne, when a undefeated Hungarians suffered a 3-2 loss to Germany.
‘The Galloping Major’ played for two different national teams in FIFA World Cups, with Hungary in 1954 and then with Spain at Chile 1962.
Puskas was born in 1927 in Budapest and embarked on his football career at an early age, playing for his father’s club, Kispest Budapest. By the time he was 16, he was a first team regular. He made his international debut at the age of 18 against Austria. The fixture was Hungary’s first since the World War II and witnessed the birth of an unparalleled career in their national colours.
An unlikely footballer in many respects, Puskas was small and overweight, not particularly strong in the air and was exclusively left-footed. But, his gifts were undeniable, as the statistics show. In 84 international appearances, Puskas scored 83 goals — a strike rate unmatched in international football.
Hungary was the dominant national team of the early 1950s. In 1952, Puskas captained his country to Olympic Gold in Helsinki and the “Magical Magyars” arrived at the 1954 WC undefeated in four years.