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Hungary marks 50th year since England win

Posted: Tuesday November 25, 2003 6:37PM; Updated: Tuesday November 25, 2003 7:33PM
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BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) -- England had never lost at home to a team from the European continent.

Hungary was a soccer outsider, given little chance to win at Wembley, the home of English soccer.

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On Nov. 25, 1953, the Hungarians managed one of the sport's greatest upsets, beating the English 6-3 in a game remembered in Hungary as the "Match of the Century."

"The game was broadcast on loudspeakers at the factory where I was employed," said Kalman Kepiro, 68, a part-time salesman. "They were trying to make us work, but it was impossible because our attention was on the game."

Hungarians all over the world on Tuesday celebrated the 50th anniversary of the memorable match, still considered one of the country's greatest sporting achievements. Hardly any Hungarians saw the game -- there wasn't any television in Hungary in 1953.

Hungary deployed a revolutionary formation of four defenders, two midfielders and four forwards. The Hungarians scored less than a minute into the match and England never recovered.

"That first goal by Nandor Hidegkuti was very important because it gave us confidence and serenity to play well the rest of the game," said 78-year-old Jeno Buzanszky, a defender who played 49 games for Hungary.

Two more goals by Hidegkuti, two by Ferenc Puskas and one by Jozsef Bozsik -- who was a parliamentary deputy at the time -- led Hungary to victory.

Goalkeeper Gyula Grosics credited the victory in part to the 4-2-4 formation implemented by coach Gusztav Sebes, but mainly to having four of the all-time best players.

"Bozsik, Hidegkuti, (Sandor) Kocsis and Puskas were like a dream team," the 77-year-old Grosics said at an anniversary ceremony outside the capital's Ferenc Puskas Stadium. "Never before was or again will there be so much talent on one team."

Grosics, Buzanszky, and Puskas are the only surviving members of the "Golden Team," which lost to Germany 3-2 in the final of the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland.

"When I see the 6-3 match now on television, it was almost childlike compared to today's soccer," said Kepiro, who still has a copy of a 1953 newspaper trumpeting the victory. "Today's players are gladiators moving like tanks."

Buzanszky hopes Hungarian soccer, which hasn't made it to the World Cup since 1986, would learn from the Golden Team's example.

"We had to make a lot of sacrifices to accomplish what we did," Buzanszky said. "But those who don't have memories of youth will have a dreary old age."

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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