Such ‘eternal life’ in the legend of the great game is rare but not impossible. The point was made in Moscow just before the World Cup Final in Moscow in a special tribute event to the memory, achievements and legacy of the great Ferenc Puskas.
Nearly 12 years have passed since Puskas died in 2006, almost half a century after his glory days with Honved and Hungary, Real Madrid and Spain. Yet his name lives on was evidenced in Moscow by Ferenc Puskas: The World Cup Legend, presented by the Hungarian Cultural Centre in Moscow and hosted by the FIFA World Football Museum at the Hyundai Motorstudio with support from the local Russian sports journalists.
Special guests included Valentina Yashina, widow of the great Russian goalkeeper Lev Yashin, and Nikita Simonian, now a vice-president of the Russian Football Union and who played against Puskas for club and country in the 1950s.
The tribute panel. (Photo by Hungarian Cultural Institute of Moscow)
The statistics of Puskas’s career are remarkable. He scored more than 600 goals for two of the finest teams of the 1950s and 1960s and 84 goals in 85 appearances for the matchless Hungary of the 1950s - the team who went unbeaten, famously, for four years but then lost the one match they wanted to win above all, the 1954 World Cup Final.
Many players down the years can boast superstar statistics. But human personality and status in the game at a unique time in its history cannot be contained so easily in the record books or online compilations.
Valentina Yashina recalled how Puskas had come to the rescue when her husband had been taken ill while watching the 1982 World Cup in Spain; Simonian recalled the privilege of competing on the same pitch.
Valentina Yashina, widow of the great Russian goalkeeper Lev Yashin. (Photo by Hungarian Cultural Institute of Moscow)
Further tributes were delivered by Keir Radnedge, chairman of the AIPS Football Commission, who told of the special affection afforded Puskas in England for starring visits including the famous 6-3 triumph at Wembley; Daniel Cerejido from the Spanish LaLiga regaled the company with Puskas’s career data; with a conclusion from former World Cup referee Abraham Klein.
Winning the World Cup is one thing; commanding such admiration down the years is something else entirely.
MOSCOW, July 20, 2018 - Griezmann, Mbappe, Pogba and their French World Cup-winning teammates are the names dominating the football headlines after their exploits against Croatia in Moscow. But whether their reputations will shine as brightly in 60 years’ time is questionable.