Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Seven Shades of... Ferenc Puskas

Well Kedge, you certainly set me a stinker this time. Your challenge, for the benefit of those who didn't catch the previous installment of this exciting series, was to link the late Ferenc Puskas with Ruud Van Nistelrooy using only non-European players.

All I can say is 'I've done it,' but BOY was it tough. Here goes...

Ferenc Puskas
who died earlier this month was quite simply a legend in the game of football. His amazing dribbling skills and ferocious shot were the impetus that Hungary needed to propel them into football’s elite, culminating in a 6-3 win over England at Wembley in 1953 (the first ever defeat for the English at home) and the runners-up spot in the World Cup the following year.

At club level, Puskas spent nine glorious seasons with Real Madrid, scoring 155 times in 179 appearances before hanging up his boots in 1967. During that time, Ferenc Puskas switched allegiance and played for Spain on four occasions and represented them at the 1962 World Cup. Another footballing legend that famously represented Spain as well as their home country was

Alfredo Di Stefano
the Argentinean centre-forward who played in the same Real Madrid side as Puskas during the 1950’s and 60’s. Di Stefano - nickname ‘The Blonde Arrow’ - accumulated a multitude of achievements during his playing career, winning eight Spanish championships and five European Cups. He was also the Spanish league’s top scorer five times and European Footballer of the Year twice, but he wasn’t just a great player - he also achieved greatness as a manager, guiding Valencia to the 1980 European Cup Winners' Cup Final where they defeated Arsenal 5-4 on penalties. The undoubted star of Di Stefano’s Valencia side was

Mario Kempes
who shot to fame as part of the 1978 Argentinean World Cup winning team which, ironically, featured a player called Daniel Valencia (but that’s another story). Kempes was the long-range shooting specialist that scored six goals in the tournament including two in the Final, thus earning him the Golden Shoe award, given to the top goalscorer at each World Cup. Other previous winners include Ronaldo, Gary Lineker and

who, though born in Mozambique, represented Portugal and played for them in the 1966 World Cup. Known as ‘The Black Pearl,’ Eusebio single-handedly helped the Portuguese avoid a shock defeat to North Korea in the quarter-finals by scoring four after the Koreans had gone 3-0 up. Portugal went on to win 5-3 and Eusebio went on to a career playing in the North American Soccer League once his fifteen-year tenure at Benfica had ended. In 1976, Eusebio signed for the Toronto Metros, latterly renamed 'Toronto Blizzard,' who can boast an array of well-known players passing through their ranks such as Jimmy Greenhoff, Peter Lorimer and

Clyde Best,
one of the first black players to appear in British football since World War II. Best was born in Bermuda in 1951 and joined West Ham United in 1969. In seven seasons, the tall, stocky centre-forward scored 47 goals for the Hammers and became a fan’s favourite until 1976 when he left for Feyenoord and then the NASL where he played for Toronto, Portland and Tampa Bay. In 1997, Clyde Best became manager of the Bermudian national team where he was able to call on the likes of

Shaun Goater
to appear in his team. Having originally signed on for Manchester United in 1989, Goater failed to break into the first team, thus resulting in a transfer to Rotherham United where he scored seventy goals and then Bristol City where he added another forty-three. It was here that he caught of the attention of Joe Royle who was looking for someone to reverse the fortunes of an ailing Manchester City. He signed for City in 1998 and went on to become a big success, but in those early days he was kept out of the side by another recent signing,

George Weah,
one-time European, African and FIFA World Player of the Year. Arguably the only Liberian player you’ve ever heard of, Weah was signed by Arsene Wenger for Monaco in 1988 before reaching the pinnacle of his career at AC Milan in the late-90’s. Having won just about every honour it’s possible to win, Weah moved on to England where he enjoyed short spells playing for Chelsea and Manchester City before ending his career with Al-Jazira in the United Arab Emirates. His list of achievements earned him a place on the 'FIFA 100' list, a collection of 125 players chosen by Pele in 2004 to represent the greatest living footballers at that time. Also on the list was

Ruud Van Nistelrooy,
currently the fourth most prolific goalscorer ever in European football competitions. While at Manchester United he became the club’s highest ever goalscorer in Europe, set the record for most consecutive scoring games in the Premiership (eight) and won the PFA Player’s Player of the Year award. Despite scoring nearly 100 goals for United in 150 matches, Van Nistelrooy’s days at the club abruptly came to an end after a public falling-out with manager Sir Alex Ferguson and a move to Real Madrid followed soon after.

He has already scored 14 goals in 17 appearances for ‘Los Blancos’ this season and on current form the Dutchman is certain to earn his place on the list of all-time great Real Madrid players, headed as it is by Ferenc Puskas and Alfredo di Stefano.


Kedge said...

A tribute to a great player and a brilliant response to the challenge Chris. My hat that I doffed last time, is well and truely doffed again.

Can anyone find a challenge to stump you?

Chris said...

Thanks Kedge! I suspect I am entirely stumpable, but to be honest that's not really the point of the whole thing. I just enjoy seeing how you can link one person with another and the strange route it takes you on sometimes!

Kedge said...

Your aim may be to link two people via an interesting route, but ours is to try and stump you.

I'm begining to think that you have a natural talent for this and stumping you could prove impossible.

You ARE the man!

Smart said...

OK, I'm throwing the first name into the ring, and someone else can complete the link name (purely on a first come first served basis, subject to availability, check press for details, all that caper...)

And the name is ... (Drum roll...)

Imre Varadi



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