Ferenc Puskàs

(1927—2006) Hungarian footballer

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A Hungarian footballer, born in Budapest, dying there at the age of 79, whose football career reflected the politics and culture of 20th-century international sport. He was the star of the legendary Hungarian team of the 1950s, seen by many as the best side never to win the World Cup, when losing 3–2 to Germany in 1954 in Berne, Switzerland; and the talisman of a multi-talented Real Madrid team assembled under the patronage of fascist dictator General Franco in Spain in the later 1950s. The Hungary side had won the 1952 Olympic football tournament with its socialist state-sponsored blend of speed, fitness, and discipline, then defeating the England side at Wembley in London in 1953 by 6–3, and in the return in Budapest the following summer by 7–1. This was a pivotal moment in the internationalization and modernization of the game. In one of Real Madrid's most memorable European Cup triumphs, when Eintracht Frankfurt was defeated by 7–3 in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1960, Puskàs scored four of the goals. A product of the communist system in his early career, and a beneficiary of the far right at his peak, Puskàs's career illustrates vividly the political uses to which sport and international sporting encounters can be put.

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.

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