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FIFA to help the Galloping Major


(FIFA.com) 12 Oct 2005

Ferenc Puskas, the Galloping Major, who is currently suffering through illness, will be given financial assistance from FIFA, FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter has said.

Puskas now requires full-time medical attention and his family are struggling to provide the care and assistance his condition requires.  However, Mr. Blatter has said that FIFA will make a financial donation to help the Hungarian legend, who brought joy to so many fans of the beautiful game during his illustrious career.

"We have already taken the decision to make a donation to Ferenc and Elizabeth Puskas. The only matter that is yet to be finalised is the amount.  FIFA do not want to discuss the matter any further, and we are seeing it as a straightforward humanitarian situation that needs to be dealt with because of exceptional circumstances."

The former Real Madrid striker is selling off more than 100 items of his personal collection at an auction in Chester, England on 2 November.  The items include the Golden Boot awarded to him for his world record goals tally, his 1954 FIFA World Cup™ runners-up medal and a shirt signed by Pele.

"We are expecting a great deal of interest," said a spokesperson for the auctioneers, Bonhams.  "It's sad that he is not in the best of health but this sale offers a unique opportunity for followers of football."

The greatest goalscorer of the 20th century
With an impressive list of honours both at club and national level, Puskas is rightly considered his country's greatest ever footballer. Five league titles in Hungary and another five in Spain, one Spanish Cup, three European Cups and one Intercontinental Cup all came his way at club level.

On the international stage, he was a cornerstone of the Hungary side that won gold at the Olympic Football Tournament in Helsinki and finished runners-up at the 1954 FIFA World Cup Switzerland™. Furthermore, the striker with the booming left foot had the honour of being named the greatest goalscorer of the 20th century by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS).

Puskas was born on 2 April 1927 in Budapest. His father, a professional player with Kispest Budapest, passed on his love of the game to young Ferenc, who was soon showing a remarkable talent of his own. By the time he was 16, the diminutive striker was a first-team regular at his father's old club (then known as Honved) in the Hungarian first division. Two years later Puskas made his international debut against Austria and scored his first goal for his country.

An unlikely footballer in many respects, Puskas was small and rotund, not particularly strong in the air and exclusively left-footed. For all of that, he had a goal-scoring instinct that was second to none. He was the central figure in the great Hungary side that dominated world football in the early 50s, although he would be denied the ultimate prize of a FIFA World Cup™. The closest he came was in the Final at Switzerland 1954, when the previously unbeaten Hungarians went down 3-2 to West Germany.

Puskas played his final game for Hungary on 14 October 1956, coincidentally also against Austria. Fittingly he scored, taking his tally to a formidable 83 goals in 84 games for the "Magical Magyars".

With his country in the throes of a national uprising in 1956, Puskas famously disappeared in Spain, where his club were playing an international fixture. Almost 18 months later, with his family having given him up for dead, the player emerged from his sanctuary to sign for Real Madrid. By then 31 and a good few kilos heavier, many people felt the player was past his best. However, Puskas was determined to prove them wrong and soon won a place in the hearts of Madrid supporters.

After using his first season to re-acquaint himself with the rigours of professional football, he emerged the following year as his team's top scorer in every competition, even outgunning his close friend and strike partner Alfredo Di Stefano. At Madrid he would go on to become La Liga's top scorer on four occasions and earn the nickname 'The Little Cannon'. Puskas starred alongside such greats as Di Stéfano, Kopa, Rial, Santamaría, Gento and Domínguez, in what was a golden era for Real Madrid.
 
Together they helped Madrid become Europe's dominant side and lift the inaugural Intercontinental Cup with victory over Uruguayan side Penarol. After drawing 0-0 in Montevídeo, the Merengues romped to a 5-1 win in the Spanish capital with their Hungarian star grabbing the opening goal.

Puskas would lift three European Cups in all and experience his crowning glory in the 1960 Final in Scotland's Hampden Park, where Madrid beat Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3. Di Stefano grabbed a hat-trick, but the evening belonged to Puskas, who scored four times in a legendary victory, and ended the season with an incredible 35 goals in 39 games.

In 1961, at the age of 34, Puskas took up Spanish nationality and went on to play four times for his adopted country team at the 1962 FIFA World Cup in Chile. In his brief spell with La Roja, he played in two wins, one draw and one defeat.

On 30 June 1967, at the age of 39, Puskas finally hung up his boots. He would later turn to coaching and enjoy spells in charge of Panathinaikos of Greece, Paraguayan side Sol de América and Chile's Colo-Colo among others.

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