The Golden Team (Hungarian: Aranycsapat; also known as the Mighty Magyars, the Marvellous Magyars, the Magnificent Magyars, or the Magical Magyars) refers to the Hungary national football team of the 1950s. It is associated with several notable matches, including the "Match of the Century" against England in 1953, and the quarter-final ("Battle of Berne") against Brazil, semi-final (against Uruguay) and final of the 1954 FIFA World Cup. The team inflicted notable defeats on then-footballing world powers England, Uruguay and the Soviet Union, before the 1956 Hungarian Revolution caused the breakup of the side.
Between 1950 and 1956, the team recorded 42 victories, 7 draws and just one defeat, in the 1954 World Cup final against West Germany. Under the Elo rating system they achieved the highest rating recorded by a national side (2230 points, 30 June 1954), just ahead of 2nd place Germany (2223 points, 13 July 2014).
The team is generally credited for successfully implementing an early form of "Total Football", later used by the Dutch in the 1970s. The team is also generally recognized for introducing new coaching and tactical innovations, which were subsequently adopted throughout the game. It was also considered emblematic of Hungarian national success and the most important subject of national pride in the worst period of oppression by the communist regime imposed on Hungary by the Soviet Union that occupied the country in 1945. In this period any "nationalistic" or even patriotic expression was strongly disapproved since these were considered being against both the internationalist ideal of the communist government as well as the expected behavior of the Hungarian nation defeated in World War II. In this atmosphere, international sport events were the only tolerated fields of expression of national pride.
- 1 Key people
- 2 Notable matches
- 2.1 1952 Olympic Games (Yugoslavia vs. Hungary)
- 2.2 1953 Central European Championship (Italy vs. Hungary)
- 2.3 1953 "Match of the Century" (England vs. Hungary)
- 2.4 1954 Hungary 7 England 1
- 2.5 1954 World Cup First Round Games
- 2.6 1954 World Cup Quarter Final: "Battle of Berne" (Brazil vs. Hungary 1954)
- 2.7 1954 World Cup Semi Final (Uruguay vs. Hungary)
- 2.8 1954 World Cup Final: "The Miracle of Bern" (West Germany vs. Hungary)
- 2.9 1955 Scotland 2 Hungary 4
- 2.10 1956 Soviet Union 0 Hungary 1
- 3 Demise
- 4 Historic significance
- 5 International football's highest rated matches
- 6 Results
- 7 Records and statistics
- 8 Honours
- 9 References
- 10 Bibliography
- 11 External links
The manager of the team was Gusztáv Sebes, who had been a trade union organizer in Budapest and pre-war Paris at Renault car factories, and was therefore accorded a political clean bill of health to run affairs by the Deputy Sports Minister. Sebes can be credited with three key innovations. Firstly, he implemented fitness regimes for his players, as well as a club-like policy at international level to give impetus to regular practice sessions.
Secondly, he was responsible for the tactical concept of a deep-lying centre forward. At the time, the majority of footballing sides adopted the WM formation, where the centre forward spearheaded an attack line of 3 forwards and 2 wingers. Sebes's tactic was to withdraw the centre forward back to the midfield, as well as dropping the wingers back to the midfield when necessary. This effectively created an extremely flexible 2–3–3–2 formation, allowing the team to quickly switch between attack and defense. The tactic also drew defenders out of position, as centre halves used to man-marking a centre forward would follow the deep-lying centre forward back to the midfield.
Thirdly, Sebes encouraged his players to be versatile – the ideal would be for any of his players to be able to play in any position. This was a revolutionary idea – most players were used to playing in one specific position. This was an early form of Total Football. Ferenc Puskas commented, "When we attacked, everyone attacked, and in defence it was the same. We were the prototype for Total Football."
1952 Olympic Games (Yugoslavia vs. Hungary)
The Hungarians arrived at the 1952 Summer Olympics unbeaten for two years. The team easily defeated opponents in the preliminary rounds, before meeting the 1948 defending Olympic champions, Sweden, in the semi-finals. Hungary demolished Sweden 6–0 to set up a final against Yugoslavia. Goals from Ferenc Puskás and Zoltán Czibor ensured a 2–0 victory and the Olympic gold for Hungary.
1953 Central European Championship (Italy vs. Hungary)
In 1953 Hungary took part in the Central European International Cup, a nations cup for teams from Central Europe and the forerunner of the European championship. The competing teams included Austria, Czechoslovakia, Italy and Switzerland. Hungary eased their way to a final against Italy, which they won 3–0 with a goal from Nándor Hidegkuti and two from Puskás.
1953 "Match of the Century" (England vs. Hungary)
A friendly match was arranged for 25 November 1953 against England. England had never been defeated on home soil by a team from outside the British Isles (it lost to the Republic of Ireland in 1949), and the FA were complacent – as the inventors of the game, they were assured that their players were technically and tactically superior to any other countries. At the time, England were ranked as the 3rd best team in the world; Hungary were ranked as the best team in the world. The game was eagerly anticipated; the British Press reported it as "the Match of the Century".
The game was played in front of 105,000 in Wembley Stadium. Hungary simply demolished England; they scored in the first minute, and after 27 minutes they were 4–1 up. The final score was 6–3, with a hat-trick from Hidegkuti, two goals from Puskás and one from Bozsik. It was a footballing lesson that sent shockwaves through English football, and which ultimately caused English clubs to adopt continental coaching and tactics.
1954 Hungary 7 England 1
England were anxious for revenge after the defeat at Wembley, and a return match was scheduled in Budapest for 23 May 1954, three weeks before the start of the 1954 World Cup. Any hopes that the Wembley game had been an aberration were immediately dispelled as Hungary tore England apart; Hungary won 7–1, inflicting England's heaviest ever defeat.
1954 World Cup First Round Games
Hungary went to the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland as firm favourites; they were unbeaten since 1950, and had issued served notice of their ability with 6–3 and 7–1 thrashings of England.
The 16 finalists were assigned to four groups, with each group having four teams in it. Each group contained two seeded teams and two unseeded teams. Only four matches were scheduled for each group, each pitting a seeded team against an unseeded team (this contrasts with a conventional round-robin in which every team plays every other team, which would have resulted in six matches in each group). In a further oddity, extra time would be played if the teams were level after ninety minutes in the group games, with the result being a draw if the scores were still level after 120 minutes.
Hungary won their opening game against South Korea 9–0, with Kocsis scoring a hat-trick. In the second game, Hungary thrashed West Germany 8–3, with Kocsis scoring another 4 goals; however, cynical fouling on Puskás left him with a hairline fracture of the ankle which left him unavailable for selection for the quarter final and semi final stages.
1954 World Cup Quarter Final: "Battle of Berne" (Brazil vs. Hungary 1954)
Hungary met Brazil in an eagerly anticipated quarter final; both sides had a reputation for open, attacking football. The Brazilians had lost the 1950 World Cup final to Uruguay, and were anxious to reach the final again.
Unfortunately, the game was notable for the number of cynical fouls performed by both sides rather than as an exhibition of footballing technique; Hungary took a 2–0 lead after 7 minutes, and after that the game descended into a series of fouls, free kicks and fights on the pitch resulting in three dismissals. The game ended 4–2 to Hungary. Fighting continued off the pitch in the tunnels and in the players dressing rooms.
The game's English referee Arthur Ellis commented: "I thought it was going to be the greatest game I'd ever see. I was on top of the world. Whether politics and religion had something to do with it I don't know, but they behaved like animals. It was a disgrace. It was a horrible match. In today's climate so many players would have been sent off the game would have been abandoned. My only thought was that I was determined to finish it." 
1954 World Cup Semi Final (Uruguay vs. Hungary)
Uruguay were the defending champions, and had never lost a World Cup match in their history, winning both tournaments they had previously entered.
Hungary were without Puskás, but still managed to take the lead via Zoltán Czibor. Uruguay rallied but were unable to even the scores before half-time. Almost immediately after the restart, Nándor Hidegkuti scored a second goal for Hungary. Uruguay's unbeaten World Cup record seemed to be over, but they still had most of the second half to recover.
The champions were not going to give up without a fight, and spent much of the remainder of the match launching attack after attack at the Hungarian defence. With a quarter of an hour to play Juan Hohberg scored for Uruguay; Hungary defended desperately until the 86th minute, when Hohberg scored his second to force extra time.
Appearing to have much more energy than their opponents, Hungary retook the lead midway through the second period of extra-time when Sándor Kocsis headed home from close range; Kocsis scored again four minutes from injury time. Uruguay were beaten 4–2, their first ever World Cup loss, while Hungary went on to their second World Cup final.
The game was in direct contrast to the quarter final between Hungary and Brazil; both Hungary and Uruguay had played attractive, attacking football in what was arguably one of the finest displays of football in a World Cup.
1954 World Cup Final: "The Miracle of Bern" (West Germany vs. Hungary)
The final was between Hungary and West Germany. Hungary were in their second World Cup Final (their 1938 team had lost to Italy 4–2 in Paris); in addition, they had a record of 34 wins, 6 draws, and 1 defeat since August 1949, and were unbeaten in their last 31 matches. Hungary had beaten West Germany 8–3 in a first-round game. The only issue the Hungarians faced was the ankle injury sustained to Puskás in the same game, from which he had not fully recovered – Sebes still took the decision to play him.
Hungary took an early lead in the 6th minute, with a goal from Puskás. Two minutes later, Czibor made it 2–0 to Hungary. However, the Germans rallied, and swiftly pulled the score back to 2–1 through Max Morlock. In the 18th minute, the Germans drew level from a corner kick; the goal was scored by Helmut Rahn.
In the second half, Hungary poured forward looking to retake the lead, but their attempts were repeatedly foiled by the German defence, with goalkeeper Toni Turek pulling off several fine saves.
With six minutes left and the score still 2–2, Helmut Rahn scored West Germany's third goal. Two minutes before the end, Puskás appeared to equalise, but he was ruled off-side. The match ended Hungary's unbeaten run in one of the biggest upsets in the history of football; West Germany won 3–2 in the "Miracle of Bern".
There were three controversial incidents in the final, each favouring the Germans; Hungarian goalkeeper Grosics was allegedly obstructed for the second German goal, Puskás apparently equalised in the 89th minute but was deemed to be offside, and there was an alleged foul on Kocsis in the penalty area in the final minute of the game.
1955 Scotland 2 Hungary 4
On 8 December 1954, Scotland hosted Hungary at Hampden Park in a friendly match, before a crowd of 113,000. Scotland were determined not to be humiliated as England had been a year earlier, and attempted to take the game to the Hungarians in a display of counterattacking football. This made for an open, attractive game with plenty of goals; Hungary scored on 20 minutes through Bozsik, and Hidegkuti made it 2–0 six minutes later. Scotland rallied and pulled one back on 36 minutes through Tommy Ring, but Sandor made it 3–1 to Hungary just before halftime.
The second half continued in the same vein, with Partick Thistle winger John Mackenzie constantly beating Hungary full back Mihály Lantos. Bobby Johnstone scored a second goal for Scotland on 46 minutes, and only poor finishing prevented Scotland from equalising. The home side continued to press forward, but were caught on a counter break right at the end of the match when Kocsis scored to make the final score 2–4 to Hungary. It was the closest any team had come to beating Hungary in a friendly competition since 1950. Afterwards, Puskas complimented the excellent work of Mackenzie, stating that he had "never seen wing play of such a high standard".
1956 Soviet Union 0 Hungary 1
On 23 September 1956, the Soviet Union played Hungary in a friendly game at the Lenin Central Stadium in Moscow, before a crowd of 102,000. The Soviet Union were unbeaten at home, and were generally regarded as the natural successors to the Hungarians as the world's premier footballing side. In addition, the Soviet team and players were regarded as ideals of socialist principles by senior communist authorities, who expected the Soviet Union to win comfortably, as befitting the senior member of the Eastern Bloc. However, a single goal from Zoltán Czibor ended the Soviet Union's unbeaten home record; the result did little to encourage good relations between the two countries, and was a minor contributing factor to a wave of patriotic fervour that resulted in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.
Hungary continued to dominate international football; between July 1954 and February 1956, Hungary played a further 19 games, winning 16, drawing 3 and losing none.
Despite this, manager Sebes was sacked in June 1956, and was replaced by Márton Bukovi; however, Sebes remained President of the Hungarian Olympic Committee from 1948 to 1960, and was also Vice President of UEFA from 1954 to 1960. He also managed several Hungarian clubs in the 1960s (Ujpesti Dozsa, Budapest Honvéd FC and Diosgyori VTK) with moderate success.
The majority of the team played for Budapest Honvéd, who entered the 1956–57 European Cup and were drawn against Athletic Bilbao in the first round. Honvéd lost the away leg 3–2, but before the home leg could be played, the Hungarian Revolution erupted in Budapest. The players decided against going back to Hungary and arranged for the return with Athletic to be played at Heysel Stadium in Brussels, Belgium. Honvéd were eliminated 6–5 on aggregate, and the Hungarian players were left in limbo. They summoned their families from Budapest, and despite opposition from FIFA and the Hungarian football authorities, they organised a fundraising tour of Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Brazil. After returning to Europe, the players parted ways.
Kocsis and Czibor moved to Spain to play for Barcelona.
Puskás emigrated to Spain to play for Real Madrid.
Hidegkuti returned to Hungary as a player and later became manager of MTK Budapest FC before emigrating to successfully manage clubs in Italy, Poland and Egypt.
Bozsik also returned in Hungary, becoming the manager of several Hungarian teams.
The historical significance of the team lay in three areas; the introduction of new tactics, the concept of using a core set of well trained players used to playing as a team, and the idea that each player could play in any position if necessary.
The importance of Gusztáv Sebes cannot be underestimated. His tactics – especially the concept of a deep lying centre forward – revolutionised a game where the majority of club and international sides had played the WM formation for the previous 20 years. The introduction and success of the Hungarian 3–2–3–2 formation led other managers and countries to experiment, with the 3–2–3–2 eventually evolving into the 4–2–4 formation.
Sebes's idea of using a core set of players, drawn from just a handful of clubs, was a new idea that was critical to the success of the team. Most national teams were selected on the concept of picking the best players, not the best team; England famously had a selection committee that selected the team for each game, with little or no sense of continuity. By using players who were familiar with each other's strengths at a club level, Sebes introduced a sense of continuity at a national level – something no other nation had at the time. The Soviet Union adopted this approach throughout the 1960s, with success at a European level; England won the World Cup in 1966 with a core of players from one club, West Ham United. Sebes also demanded rigorous training and standards of physical fitness from his players, as well as good tactic awareness – again, these were areas that many national sides of the time neglected. As a consequence, the Hungarian side were able to outrun, outpass and outplay their opposition.
Perhaps his most revolutionary idea was that every player should be able to play in all positions; previously, each player in a team was assigned a specific position or role, usually marking a specific opposition player. The Hungarian tactic of players constantly changing roles and positions contributed greatly to the success of the team – however, it could only be introduced by using a core set of talented players who were used to playing together at both a club and national level for a period of time. It would be nearly 20 years before the Dutch national team of the 1970s utilised the same approach with their concept of Total Football.
International football's highest rated matches
The Mighty Magyars feature in three of the top 10 highest rated matches all-time. A list of the 10 matches between teams with the highest combined Elo ratings (the nation's points before the matches are given) as of July 16, 2010.
|Nation 1||Elo 1||Nation 2||Elo 2||Score||Date||Occasion||Location|
|1||4211||Netherlands||2100||Spain||2111||0 : 1||2010-07-11||World Cup F||Johannesburg|
|2||4161||West Germany||1995||Hungary||2166||3 : 2||1954-07-04||World Cup F||Bern|
|3||4157||Netherlands||2050||Brazil||2107||2 : 1||2010-07-02||World Cup QF||Cape Town|
|4||4148||West Germany||2068||Brazil||2080||0 : 1||1973-06-16||Friendly||Berlin|
|5||4129||Spain||2085||Germany||2044||1 : 0||2010-07-07||World Cup SF||Durban|
|6||4119||Brazil||2050||West Germany||2069||1 : 0||1982-03-21||Friendly||Rio de Janeiro|
|7||4118||Hungary||2108||Brazil||2010||4 : 2||1954-06-27||World Cup QF||Bern|
|8||4116||Hungary||2141||Uruguay||1975||4 : 2||1954-06-30||World Cup SF||Lausanne|
|9||4113||West Germany||2079||Netherlands||2034||2 : 1||1974-07-07||World Cup F||Munich|
|10||4108||Brazil||2015||West Germany||2093||1 : 1||1977-06-12||Friendly||Rio de Janeiro|
Records and statistics
- World Record: (June 4, 1950 to Feb 19 1956) 42 victories, 7 draws, 1 defeat ("Miracle of Berne") – 91.0% winning percentage ratio.
- Team Record (June 4, 1950 to July 3, 1954) 31 game undefeated narrative.
- World Record: most consecutive games scoring at least one goal: 73 games (April 10, 1949 to June 16, 1957).
- World Record: longest time undefeated in 20th and 21st centuries: 4 years 1 month (June 4, 1950 to July 4, 1954).
- World Record: most collaborative goals scored between two starting players (Ferenc Puskás & Sándor Kocsis) on same national side (159 goals).
- 20th Century Record: Hungary manager Gusztáv Sebes holds the highest ratio of victories per game past 30 matches with 82.58% (49 wins, 11, draws, 6 defeats). Brazil legend Vicente Feola (1955–1966) owns the second highest with 81.25 (46 wins, 12 draws, 6 defeats).
- 20th Century Record: Most International Goals: Ferenc Puskás (84 goals).
- World Cup Record: 27 goals scored in a single World Cup finals tournament.
- World Cup Record: 5.4 goals-per-match in a single World Cup finals tournament.
- World Cup Record: +17 goal differential in a single World Cup finals tournament.
- World Cup Record: 2.2 goals-per-match average for individual goal scoring in a single World Cup finals tournament (Sándor Kocsis 11 goals in 5 games).
- World Cup Record: highest margin of victory ever recorded in a World Cup finals tournament match ( Hungary 9, South Korea 0 – July 17, 1954).
- World Cup Precedent: first national team to defeat two-time and reigning World Cup champion Uruguay in a World Cup finals tournament (Hungary 4, Uruguay 2, semi-final — July 30, 1954).
- World Cup Precedent: Sándor Kocsis, first player to score two hat tricks in a World Cup finals tournament (Hungary 8, West Germany 3 – July 20, 1954 & Hungary 9, South Korea 0 – July 17, 1954).
- National Record: Highest margin of victory recorded by Hungarian national team (Hungary 12, Albania 0 – Sept. 23 1950).
- Precedent: first national side from outside the British Isles to defeat England at home since the codification of association football in 1863, a span of 90 years (Hungary 6, England 3, see "Match of the Century" – Nov. 25 1953).
- Hungary's 7–1 defeat of England in Budapest the next year is still England's record defeat.
- Precedent: first national side in the world to eclipse an 1888 Scottish record of being undefeated in 22 consecutive matches (32 games).
- Precedent: first non-South American national side to defeat Uruguay (Hungary 4, Uruguay 2, semi-final — July 30, 1954), breaking a 17-game Uruguayan unbeaten run against non-South American competition dating from May 26, 1924.
- Precedent: first national side to defeat the Soviet Union at home (Hungary 1, Soviet Union 0 – Sept. 23 1956).
- Precedent: first national team in history to simultaneously host the No.1 and No. 2 world record holders for most goals scored internationally (Ferenc Puskás 84 goals, Sándor Kocsis 75 goals) from May 11, 1955 to October 14, 1956.
- Team Record vs. Elo Ranked Opponents: (June 4, 1950 – Oct. 14 1956), vs. world Top 10 ranked opponents: 11 wins, 2 draws, 1 loss / vs. world Top 5 opponents: 4 wins, 0 draw, 1 loss.
- 2nd strongest power rating ever attained in the sport's history using the Elo rating system for national teams with 2166 points (on June 30, 1954). The record stood for 60 years and was finally broken by Germany on July 8, 2014 with 2180 points.
|Olympic medal record|
|1952 Helsinki||Men's Football|
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