Ferenc Puskás - Hungary's biggest star

A combination of power and dazzling skill in a stocky, borderline-overweight frame, enjoyed a longer reign in the eye of the West.

Ferenc Puskas, in 1971, team manager of Greece club Pathaninaikos.

From June 1950 to February 1956, Hungary lost only one match out of 50. Unfortunately for the Aranycsapat (Golden Team), that defeat was the final of the 1954 World Cup. Despite being denied the Jules Rimet Trophy, the names of Gusztáv Sebes's Magical Magyars are today far more resonant than those of the victorious Germans, for this Hungary side revolutionised the way the game was played.

Hungary's most resonant performance was undoubtedly its 6-3 win over England at Wembley in 1953, a game that blew apart the self-perpetuated myth of English football's pre-eminence. The most vivid moment in this pivotal day in football history was, of course, the first of Ferenc Puskás's two goals, a trademark left-footed thump following a casual drag-back with the sole of his foot, which left his marker Billy Wright slide-tackling thin air. “Like a fire engine going to the wrong fire,” was how sportswriter Geoffrey Green, covering the game for The Times, described Wright's desperate lunge.

 

Puskás was undoubtedly Hungary's biggest star. The elusive Nandor Hidegkuti may have made the Magyars tick, and Sandor Kocsis may have been a more prolific goalscorer, but the Galloping Major, a combination of power and dazzling skill in a stocky, borderline-overweight frame, enjoyed a longer reign in the eye of the West. Following the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956, Puskás moved to Spain and won three European Cups at Real Madrid, where he forged a devastating partnership with Alfredo Di Stefano.

In the 1954 World Cup, Hungary scored a remarkable 27 goals in five matches, with Kocsis netting 11 and Puskás and Hidegkuti four each. An injured Puskás missed the quarter-final and semi-final, but returned for the final against West Germany, and left an indelible, if tragic mark on the ‘Miracle of Berne'. Puskás scored the game's first goal, and following Germany's stunning comeback from 0-2 to 3-2, slid home what he and the rest of the Hungary team believed was an equaliser three minutes from the end, only for the linesman to rule the goal offside.

Gallery of Greats: Sportstar series on World Cup heroes