Budapest (MTI) – Legendary footballer Jeno Buzanszky, the last surviving member of Hungary’s Golden Team of the 1950s, has died at the age of 89.
Buzanszky’s son told football website FourFourTwo on Sunday that the former Olympic champion and World Cup runner-up had died in hospital in Esztergom in northern Hungary at 8pm. He had been taken to hospital on Dec. 12 where he underwent two operations.
“I am proud to have played in the world’s best football team that everyone has remembered ever since,” he said in an interview given to MTI in May 2011. He said it had never occurred to him to play football or coach abroad because he loved Hungary so much.
Born in 1925, Jeno Buzanszky was the right back in Hungary’s legendary Golden Team of the early 1950s. Buzanszky made his debut in the national eleven in 1951 and remained on it for 48 selected matches up until 1956. In the Golden Team he played shoulder-to-shoulder with such greats as Ferenc Puskas, Jozsef Bozsik, Nandor Hidegkuti and Sandor 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. The winning streak came to an end in the 1954 World Cup final when Hungary, the hot favourite, lost 3:2 to West Germany.
“My life went where the ball rolled,” he said in the MTI interview.
Buzanszky, who played in only three losing games and eight draws while wearing the national colours, was the fastest-moving defender on the Golden Team. Buzanszky played a hard game as right back, offering mature and modern soccer from both the technical and tactical points of view. Often cited as a symbol of reliability, Buzanszky excelled not only in tackling and fending off attacks, but also in launching counter-attacks. He often broke ahead and ended the action with a precise pass to his teammates who in turn scored down the middle.
He received the sportsman of the nation award in 2011 and he was elected a member of the Association of Immortal Hungarian Sportspeople last November. “It is a great feeling to have given happiness to my country,” he said after having received the award.
Starting his career in his hometown of Dombovar, he became the mainstay of Dorog, a team based in a mining district near Budapest. Over a span of 13 years Buzanszky played in 274 first-division matches to become the only non-Budapester to win a place on the Golden Team, which remained unbeaten for an incredible 32 consecutive games. After retiring as a player, Buzanszky became a coach, then held various official sports positions, including deputy president of the Hungarian Football Association, where he served for two years.
“The last of the Mohicans is gone. Farewell, Uncle Jeno!” Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on his Facebook page, commenting on Buzanszky’s death.
The Hungarian Football Association MLSZ said it considers the deceased Buzanszky as one of its own. “With his death Hungarian and world football has suffered an inconsolable loss,” the MLSZ said.
The German Football Association and the International Football Federation (FIFA) both published obituaries of Buzanszky on their websites, remembering his role as one of the “Magic Magyars”.
Budapest Mayor Istvan Tarlos also sent his condolences to the family and fans in a statement.
The ruling Fidesz party expressed its own condolences in a statement. “We share in the sorrow of the family, friends and fans. May he rest in peace, his memory will be kept in our hearts forever,” the statement said.
The radical nationalist Jobbik party expressed its deep sympathy with Buzanszky’s family in a statement. “His life, career and perseverance must be an example to all sports lovers,” their statement said.