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The Golden Soccer Team of Hungary 1954
Interview with the two living members: Grosics and Buzánszky
The Golden Team also known as the Magical Magyars, the Marvellous Magyars, the Magnificent Magyars, or the Mighty Magyars refers to the Hungary national football team of the 1950s.
It is associated with several notable matches, including the “Match of the Century”, the “Battle of Berne” plus a World Cup semi-final with Uruguay and the “Miracle of Berne”. The team inflicted notable defeats on then-footballing world powers England, Uruguay andSoviet Union before the 1956 Hungarian Revolution caused the breakup of the side. The team was built around a core of six key players: Ferenc Puskás, Sándor Kocsis, Nándor Hidegkuti, Zoltán Czibor, József Bozsik and Gyula Grosics. Between 1950 and the 1954 World Cup final match, the team suffered no defeats, recording 42 victories and 7 draws. Under the Elo rating system they achieved the highest rating so far recorded by a national side (2166 points, June 1954).
Two of the Hungarian football heroes are still living. Ferenc Puskas the “Sportman of the Nation” died in 2006. Gyula Grosics, the marvellous goal keeper and Jenő Buzánszky the right back are both 85 years old. I am very lucky that I had the chance to make an interview with them. Gyula Grosics’s health is delicate now. In the last years he had several heart attacks and lung operations. I would like to thank him that he has given me this interview.
“I still wake up with the Golden Team”
Gyula Grosics (born 4 February 1926 in Dorog, Hungary) is a Hungarian former football goalkeeper who played 86 times for the Hungarian national football team and was part of the legendary Golden Team of the 1950s. He was nicknamed the Black Panther He is credited with developing the “sweeper-keeper” style of play, whereby the goalkeeper can act as an extra defender when needed. He was a participant at three consecutive World Cups, 1954 FIFA World Cup, 1958 FIFA World Cup and 1962 FIFA World Cup, and was selected as the goalkeeper of the 1954 World Cup's All Star Team after winning the silver medal with his team. After the Revolution of 1956 the Golden Team broke up. Grosics voted for staying in Hungary with many other footballplayers of the Golden Team.
In his club career, he played for Hungarian clubs MATEOSZ, Budapest Honvéd FC and Tatabányai Bányász, where he retired in 1962. In 2008 he was given the opportunity to play for his favourite club, Ferencvárosi Torna Club 46 years after the Communist regime refused to allow him to sign for them. The 82 year old Grosics performed the kick off for Ferencváros in a friendly match against Sheffield United and stood in goal for a few minutes before being substituted.
- This interview is for the German magazine “Autographensammler”. German lectors are surely interested in your point of view: how could the Golden Team lose the Football World Cup final against Germany for 2:3 in Berne in 1954?
Grosics – This match appears in my nightmares still now. I often wake up during the night and immediately this match comes to my mind. But I have to admit that the German team was the lucky team and we could not beat them. The reason of losing this match had a lot of components, but I have never talked about the causes and I would not like to talk about them neither in the future. Many years after the Football World Cup a very good relationship was formed among the German and the Hungarian players. We still meet each other either is Germany or in Hungary. Nevertheless the reason of the 3:2 never comes up as a topic. Once we watched the football match on the video. The Germans were so tactful: after 2:2 they stopped the film.
-You are the most famous Hungarian living sport legend, the “Black Panther”. You were the first goalkeeper in the world who was wearing the black strip. How was it that you chose the black colour?
Grosics – As you may know I was born in town Dorog, close to Budapest. I started to play football there. Before 1945 goal keepers did not wear a strip of a definite colour. The colours of the goalkeepers’ strip changed from week to week depending on the colours of the strips the differents teams were using. I got bored of the continuous changes and once I asked the person in charge of equipment if there was any strip of a black colour because black was the colour that could match every other colored strip of the various teams. Since then I defended our goal in black. This colour soon became popular among goalkeepers and after 1945 most goalkeepers – even internationally – started to use the black strip.
-Did you want to be a football player since your childhood?
Grosics – No. I was preparing to be a priest. That was my mother’s wish. But you never know the kind of things life can bring and at the age of 13 I was already playing in the local football team. At the age of 15 – when I was still a child – I became the member of the adult team of Dorog. Since that time my life became football.
- The Golden Team is a concept that is known all over the world. After 50 year, what does it mean for you?
Grosics – When I go to bed at night or when I wake up in the morning I am still thinking of the Golden Team. I can say that the Golden Team is always on my mind. Can you think of any other football team in the world where those kind of personalities played such as Puskás, Bozsik, Kocsis and Hidegkuti? For me the world opened thanks to the Golden Team. I was able to travel to such places where otherwise I weren’t able to get to. I received such a great honour and glory that only a few people got in their life.
- What was your relationship with Lev Yashin, the famous soviet goalkeeper of that time?
Grosics – Yashin was the goalkeeper of the Dinamo of Moscow and we met each other in several mathes. We had a cordial, good relationship. Once he invited me to his birthday party to Moscow and I went there and participated in the event. It was so sad that at that time he was already ill (his foot had to be amputated – note of the author of the article) He was a great goalkeeper!
- A documentary was shot about your life for your 85. birthday. Where can we see this film?
Grosics – It was a great honour for me. The president of the Hungarian Republic was present at the premier. As far as I know they are organizing the presentation of the film now. There is a great interest from abroad also. I was informed that Germany will be among the first countries where this documentary will be presented.
- Do you follow the Hungarian football of today?
Grosics – Not really. I follow it rather from a distance. I miss a lot of things concerning the actual Hungarian football. I do not know the time our football gets back its previous glory.
-Is there somebody in your family who continues your marvellous career?
Grosics – No. It is interesting that there weren’t any football players among my ancestors either, and there is nobody in my family who would continue my job. Or perhaps there is somebody: I have a great-grandson who is 5 years old. Everyone seeing him playing with a ball says that he has a talent…
“We were rivals, not enemies”
Jenő Buzánszky (born May 4, 1925, Dombóvár, Hungary), is a former Hungarian footballer and coach. Buzánszky played as a right back for Hungary. During the 1950s he was a member of the legendary Hungarian national team known as the Mighty Magyars. He was the only member of the team not to play for either Honvéd or MTK Hungária FC, the famous teams in the capital, Budapest. Together with the goalkeeper, Gyula Grosics, he is the surviving member of the team. After 274 league games he retired as a player and became a coach. In 1996 he became a vice-president of the Hungarian Football Federation. Buzánszky made his debut for Hungary on November 12, 1950 in a 1-1 draw with Bulgaria. He subsequently played 48 times for Hungary and as one of the legendary Mighty Magyars, he helped Hungary become Olympic Champions in 1952 and Central European Champions in 1953. He also played in the Hungary team that defeated England twice. During the 1954 World Cup he played for Hungary in all five games.
- Hungary became known in the world not only as a football team but as a country as well by winning the so called “Match of the Century” in the Wembley Stadium in 1953. In Hungary even today everybody remembers the legendary 6:3 against England…
Buzánszky – England, the ancestor of the European football had not been defeated for 90 years at home. England was a political, economical and sport power at that time. After Hungary had won the Olympic Games in 1952 in Helsinki, England invited us to participate in the 90 years anniversary match, what they called the “Match of the Century”. They said that if they defeated us, they would be the best team in the world. But what they had been able to do during 90 years they couldn’t do during 90 minutes. In the first half, second 45. Hidegkuti score the first goal. There were 100 000 espectatores in the Wembley and the Television was broadcasting the match to abroad, to the west. In Hungary people could listen it only on the radio, because there was no TV. The result became 6: 3 to Hungary.
- What memories brings to you the World Cup in Berne1954 when the Golden Team got the silver medal and Germany got the gold medal?
Buzánszky – The result I remember is the 8:3 against Germany and not the 2:3. We defeated Germany for 8:3 in the semifinal. We defeated Brazil thorough Uruguay. Before the final we played against Urugay, who won the World Cup in Brazil in 1950. We won in the extra time 4:2 against Uruguay. After 4 matches played in the semifinals our organism was not the same fit as at the beginning. Because of the extra time we lost the train and we had to take a taxi from Solothurn to Lausanne where we had our accommodation. We got to bed at about 5:30 in the morning. It was a surprise to us, and it never happened in sport history, that the referee (Ling) and the linesman (Griffits) were the same as in the match when we won against Germany 8:3 in the semifinals. Both of them were English. I do not know, maybe this could also influence the match. When the Germans score the second goal a player put his arms around Grosics’s neck pulling him away. After 3:2, Puskás threw the last goal, so the result was 3:3. The referee allowed the goal, but after it the linesman Griffits began to wave with the flag. Ling withdraw the goal. If the result had been 3:3, there would not have been extra time, but a new match on Tuesday.
- In the communist regime travelling abroad was very difficult. Thanks to football you travelled a lot. Can you mention any anecdote that happened to you?
Buzánszky – In 1950 I went to Albania with the trade union team. We travelled by a special flight with only our football team on board. We won against Albania 1:0. After the match Enver Hoxha, Chairmain of the Albanian Communist Party invited us to his residence. It revealed that there was a famous opera singer pair who presented a show to him. They were singing and we were clapping our hands. This was our task. We acted as the audience of the Communist leader for four days. On the fourth day Enver Hoxha let us go.
- What would you advice to the teenagers of today?
Buzánszky – Sport is highy important. It makes you strong not only phisically but mentally too. Football is played both with brain and feet. While you are playing football, there is no “Dolce Vita.” You have to be stong enough to do without many enjoyable things. My life was determined by football since my childhood, although in my family nobody played football. It was my mental drug. The way the ball rolled did I go also. At that time we had a P.E. lesson at school every day. Today there are only two P.E. lessons per week. Sport is not for itself, but for the community, for the people. If a country is good at sport it can give the country fame in the world. The aim of sport is to bring joy into people’s life. Four years ago (!) a girl from my town met a Malaysian boy on the internet. The girl asked him: “What do you know about Hungary?” The boy answered: “Small, Communist, Golden Team”.
- You still lead a very active life nowadays. A sport stadium was named after you in your hometown, Dorog recently.(see photo)
Buzánszky – Yes, fortunately I am invited to many sport events, university football cups and to tell stories about my life. I also go frequently to Transylvania (now part of Rumania, before WW1 belonging to Hungary – the author) with the International Children’s Safety Service to bring Hungarian children closer to sport. My mind is determined by sport even today. I have never smoken a cigarette, I have never been drunk. I go to bed at 11 p.m. and I wake up at 6’ clock in the morning.
- I talked with Gyula Grosics, and he told me that you are still in contact with the German football players of the World Cup final in 1954. How could this strange relationship born?
Buzánszky – After the falling of the Berlin wall Chancellor Helmut Kohl invited the Golden Team’s members to Germany. We established a partnership with the members of the German selection of 1954. We were in contact for many years with Fritz Walter, Ottmar Walter, Schäfer, and the others, but today only 2-2 members of both teams are still alive. Ottmar Walter and Horst Eckel from the German side, Grosics and me from the Hungarian side. I was in Germany four times this year. I think this is unique in the world, that a winner team and a looser team of a Football World Cup Final have such a nice partnership. We say: “We were rivals, not enemies.”