Produced on April 2, 1927, in Budapest, Hungary, Ferenc Pusks starred for Honvd SE and Hungary’s strong national team in the 1950s. After deserting during the Hungarian Revolution, the stocky forward have more success with Spain’s Real Madrid team. Pusks returned to Hungary after 25 years in exile, and saw Budapest’s largest sports arena renamed in his honour just before his passing.
Ferenc Pusks was born Ferenc Purczeld Bir on April 2, 1927, in Budapest, Hungary. He joined the youth soccer team of Kispest AC, where his dad was a trainer, and made his debut for the senior team in the age of 16. Named to the Hungarian national squad as an 18-year old, he scored in his international debut, against Austria. Pusks emerged as the most effective player for Kispet, that was renamed Budapest Honvd SE as the Hungarian Army team in the late 1940s. Short and stocky, he did not look the part of a football star, but he was famous for his lethal left foot and unparalleled field vision.
In this time, the Hungarian national team established itself as an unbeatable juggernaut against other countries. Their highlights included a gold medal in the 1952 Olympic Games, and back to back thrashings of the strong English team with a combined score of 13-4. Hungary’s only defeat in this period came in the 1954 World Cup. His late goal was disallowed due to an offsides call, as well as the powerful Hungarians lost, 3-2. Honvd was playing in Spain when the Hungarian Revolution broke out in 1956, and Pusks deserted along with several teammates.
After unsuccessful efforts to join an Italian team, Pusks signed to play alongside talented Argentinean striker Alfredo Di Stfano for Real Madrid in 1958. The pairing of two of the planet ‘s best abilities proved too much for competitors, as exemplified by their combined seven goals in the 1960 UEFA European Cup final triumph. He retired from football in 1966, having recorded almost a goal per match in his stints with Honvd, the Hungarian national team and Real Madrid.
Pusks handled several teams after retiring, most notably directing the Greek club Panathinaikos FC into a runner-up finish in the 1971 European Cup. The Galloping Major finally returned to his home country in 1981 to play in a exhibition match, and he trained the Hungarian national team for four matches in 1993.
Pusks was hospitalized with Alzheimer’s disease in 2000. He appeared in a service when Budapest’s largest sports arena was renamed Ferenc Pusks Stadium in 2002, but seldom resurfaced as his health decreased. In 2009, the Hungarian great was honored together with the development of the yearly FIFA Pusks Award, presented to the player judged to have scored the top goal of the year.