Soccer star Gyula Grosics, who was the goalkeeper in Hungary’s legendary Golden Team of the early 1950s, died on Friday, at the age of 88.
Born in 1926, Gyula Grosics started his career in his hometown of Dorog, a mining region near Budapest, becoming the mainstay of the local team. Over a span of nearly two decades Grosics played in 390 first-division matches to win three championship titles and become a stalwart of the Golden Team, which remained unbeaten for an incredible 32 consecutive games between 1950 and 1954.
Grosics made his debut in the national eleven in 1947 and played in 86 selected matches, ending in 1962, a Hungarian record still unbeaten among goalkeepers. He was a key member of the all-conquering golden generation of Hungarian footballers in the early 1950s, playing shoulder-to-shoulder with such greats as Ferenc Puskás, Jozsef Bozsik, Nándor Hidegkuti and Sándor Kocsis. This was the side that triumphed in the 1952 Olympic Games, beat Italy 3:0 in the first game ever played at Rome’s Olympic Stadium, and won a stunning 6:3 victory against England at Wembley Stadium in November 1953, which made it the first non-British team to ever defeat the masters of soccer on their home turf. The return match – a 7:1 win for the Golden Team in Budapest the following year – was icing on the cake. That winning streak came to an end in the 1954 World Cup final when Hungary, the hot favourite, lost 3:2 to West Germany.
The legendary goalkeeper also played in the 1958 and 1962 World Cups.
Grosics was nicknamed the “Black Panther” as he was the first goalkeeper to favour the rather intimidating all-black strip. One of the greatest goalies of the game, he is credited with developing the “sweeper-keeper” style of play, whereby the goalkeeper can act as an extra defender when needed and even initiate attacks. Bolstering the defence, he was sometimes referred to as the fourth back.
After retiring as a player, Grosics became a coach, working for Hungarian and Kuwaiti teams. Later, he presided over a major sports club in Budapest.
With Grosics’s death, the only Golden Team member still living is right back Jenő Buzanszky and József Tóth.