6 of the Best Moments of Ferenc Puskas’ Career

Ferenc Puskas is number 14 in 90min’sTop 50 Greatest Footballers of All Time series?


Olympic champion. European Cup winner. The man with the third most international goals ever. Ferenc Puskas had a very very very very very very good career where he did very very very very very very many good things. 

These are some of them! Not all of them, but some of them! 


Scoring on Hungary Debut

Ferenc Puskas

Puskas’ club debut, at the tender age of 16, didn’t go too well – fairly anonymous in a 3-0 defeat. That’s not exceptional, most players don’t light it up in their first games, but he got a chance to turn things around just two years later on his international debut. 

Smashed it, didn’t he? Scored the first goal in a 5-2 win over Austria, the first of a staggering (frankly nonsense) 84 strikes in 85 internationals. At 18 years old. NONSENSE. 


Golden Boot of the World

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It took a few seasons for the young Puskas to get up to speed in senior football, scoring 24 goals in 51 games over his first four seasons. He started to fly once he hit his late teens though, hitting 36 and 32 goals in 1945/46 and 1946/47 – before the 1947/48 season brought 50 goals in 31 games.

FIFTY. GOALS. IN 31 GAMES. 

Lionel Messi has only had one 50-goal league season, and it took him 37 games. Cristiano Ronaldo has never done it. Luis Suarez? Not even close. Pele? Once, at a lower goals/games ratio. 

No surprise that Puskas won the world Golden Boot award that season. 


Olympic Gold

Alfred Di Stefano,Francisco Gento,Uwe Seeler,Gordon Banks

One of Puskas’ finest moments, but one which could so easily have been one of his biggest disappointments, the way the World Cup final was two years later.

Against a stubborn and tactically astute Yugoslavia side in the Olympic final, the Galloping General stepped up to take a 37th minute penalty with the scores level at 0-0. Weak with nerves, as he later described, he hit his shot weakly for Vladimir Beara to save – the first penalty he had failed to score in his career. 

Not until the 70th minute of the match did Puskas make up for his mistake, smashing home before getting ‘so many kisses that they would have sustained a modest woman for a lifetime’. Make of that what you will. Zoltan Czibor made the result safe in the dying minutes, and the Golden Team lifted their first major international trophy before returning home to a crowd of 400,000 in Budapest. 


Match of the Century

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On 25th November 1953, Ferenc Puskas’ Hungary team broke English football. They came to Wembley, the home of the game, where the English had never lost, and blew Walter Winterbottom’s team to pieces in the first half an hour.

Nándor Hidegkuti scored inside the first minute against an England team containing Sir Stanley Matthews, Stan Mortensen and Billy Wright. He scored a second to go with Puskas’ own brace, leaving England trailing 4-1 with almost 20 minutes to go until half time. 

The match finished 6-3, and shook English football to its core. Everyone knew that Hungary were good – they were already Olympic champions – but the dominant win over the presumptive progenitors of the game put the stamp on a new era of international football. Until…


World Cup Golden Ball

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Yeah, only lasted two years really. The Mighty Magyars, the Golden Team, made it the best part of four years unbeaten from 1950 until the 1954 World Cup final. 31 glorious games, and it all came crashing down against West Germany in a devastating 3-2 defeat in Bern.

Did it suck? Yeah, it sucked. A lot. But for Puskas it came with a small silver lining, and a vanishingly rare accolade, as he was awarded the tournament’s Golden Ball award. 

That, despite playing in just three of Hungary’s five games; and only one in the knockout round after having his ankle fractured against West Germany in the group stage. That’s the measure of the player – that he could play half a tournament and still be recognised as its best performer. 


First European Cup

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It’s hard to call Puskas unlucky in his career after all the things he achieved, but it wouldn’t be entirely unjustified. His one World Cup final saw him playing on a half-healed fractured ankle, and hit by controversial refereeing decisions. Just when the European Cup was created, his Honved side more or less disbanded because of the Hungarian Revolution and he spent two years out of the game entirely.

He took Real Madrid to the final of the tournament in his first season in Spain, but was forced to watch the final from the sidelines after picking up an injury. Real also won the competition in his final season, 1965/66, but his only contributions came in the early rounds (five goals over two legs against Feyenoord!) and he was forced to watch the final, again, rather than play a role. 

He played full parts in the finals in 1962 and 1964, but was on the losing side against Bela Guttman’s Benfica and a Luis Suarez-inspired Inter. 

Of the five European Cup finals his sides played in, Puskas was only on the pitch to win one of them. 

He scored four goals in a 7-3 win over Eintracht Frankfurt. 

Emphatic. 


For more from Chris Deeley, follow him on Twitter at @ThatChris1209!

90min’s ‘Top 50 Greatest Footballers of All Time’ can be found here.

Number 50: Luka Modric

Number 49: John Charles

Number 48: Hugo Sanchez

Number 47: Jairzinho

Number 46: Omar Sivori

Number 45: Paolo Rossi

Number 44: Paul Breitner

Number 43: George Weah

Number 42: Kaka

Number 41: Lev Yashin

Number 40: Gunnar Nordahl

Number 39: Kevin Keegan

Number 38: Hristo Stoichkov

Number 37: Gianluigi Buffon

Number 36: Johan Neeskens

Number 35: Xavi Hernandez

Number 34: Luis Suarez

Number 33: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge

Number 32: Andres Iniesta

Number 31: Rivelino

Number 30: Bobby Moore

Number 29: Socrates

Number 28: Sandor Kocsis

Number 27: Lothar Matthaus

Number 26: Ronaldinho

Number 25: Ruud Gullit

Number 24: Bobby Charlton

Number 23: Giuseppe Meazza

Number 22: Raymond Kopa

Number 21: Romario

Number 20: Eusebio

Number 19: Marco van Basten

Number 18: George Best

Number 17: Zico

Number 16: Franco Baresi

Number 15: ?Cristiano Ronaldo


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