Sándor Szűcs

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Sándor Szűcs
Personal information
Date of birth (1921-11-23)23 November 1921
Place of birth Szolnok, Kingdom of Hungary
Date of death 4 June 1951(1951-06-04) (aged 29)
Place of death Budapest, Hungary PR
Position(s) Defender
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1939–1944 Szolnoki MÁV
1944–1951 Újpest FC
National team
1941–1948 Hungary 19 (0)
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

Sándor Szűcs (23 November 1921 – 4 June 1951) was a Hungarian football player. He was a defender for Szolnoki MÁV and Újpest FC. With Újpest, he was a three-time league champion in the Nemzeti Bajnokság I. He had 19 appearances as an international for Hungary from 1941 to 1948. In 1951, he was executed by the Hungarian regime for an attempted defection to Austria.


Szűcs was born in Szolnok in 1921. He began his career with his local club, Szolnoki MÁV, at the age of 17 in 1938. In 1944, he moved to Újpest FC where he played alongside Ferenc Szusza and Gyula Zsengellér.[1]

In 1940, he made his first appearance as a youth international for the Hungarian national youth team. In March 1941, he was called up to the Hungary national football team for a match against Yugoslavia.[2] Over the years on the national team, he played alongside Ferenc Puskás, József Bozsik, Ferenc Deák, György Sárosi and Nándor Hidegkuti for Hungary.


In 1948, Szűcs met singer Erzsi Kovács and began an affair with her. Kovács was married to pianist Lajos Boros and the state frowned upon the adulterous relationship, especially after Kovács moved in with the player. He was not called up to the national team and was told that he risked losing his football career over the affair.[3] Szűcs had received word of an offer from A.C. Milan through a contact and the pair considered escaping from Hungary.[4]

However, the ongoing recruiting efforts of eastern bloc players by those that had already escaped resulted in the authorities stepping up their watch on football players. In 1949, fellow Hungarian player László Kubala defected to the west and formed a team called Hungaria, which was made up of Eastern European émigrés, including Hungarians.[5] The team played friendlies against major clubs, which paid them well.[2]

The couple found someone that would help them reach the west in exchange for a half pound of gold plus $5,000, if successful.[4] On 6 March 1951, they left with their handler. Near Szombathely, they were stopped by a patrol, but made it through by showing their identification. Some distance later, the smuggler asked Szűcs to give him his gun. A few minutes later, soldiers from the ÁVO placed both of them in custody. It turned out that the smuggler was an ÁVO agent and that the entire escape had been a trap.[2]

Once arrested, an added complication for Szűcs was that he played for Ujpest, now named Budapesti Dózsa, which was controlled by the police.[2] As a player for the team, he was a commissioned lieutenant in the police and was carrying his service weapon during the attempt. This made him subject to an anti-defection law that called for life imprisonment or the death penalty for members of any armed service caught defecting.[3] He and Kovács were held for months before trial. Szűcs was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. His former teammates Ferenc Puskás and József Bozsik attempted to intervene on his behalf without success.[4] On 4 June 1951, Szűcs was executed.[3]


The trial was held in secret and, officially, nobody knew about the execution until the political changes in the country in 1989. Additionally, the location of his grave was strictly confidential. After the communist regime's fall, Szűcs' story was widely published. In 1989 the death sentence was revoked and declared a violation of the law. In 1991, he was posthumously named a police lieutenant-colonel.[1][4] Since 1993, an elementary school was named after him in Újpest, while a football tournament for youth players of the district is held every year. The stand of Újpest FC's Ferenc Szusza Stadium where home team supporters sit has been named after him. A documentary movie was filmed on his story in 2005.


  1. ^ a b "Szűcs Sándor". Szolnoki MAV FC. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d "Tragikus véget ért Szűcs Sándor története, kinek nevét az egyik tiszaligeti pálya is viseli" (in Hungarian). Szoljon. 10 June 2017.
  3. ^ a b c "A magyar futball mártírja". Hetek (in Hungarian). 22 June 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d "Szűcs Sándort azért végezték ki, mert szerelmes volt". 24.hu (in Hungarian). 29 March 2016.
  5. ^ Wilson, Jonathan (17 September 2019). The Names Heard Long Ago. Public Affairs.

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