Left Menu
Development News Edition

The night Real Madrid and European football struck gold

PTI | Paris | Updated: 19-05-2020 11:57 IST | Created: 19-05-2020 09:39 IST
The night Real Madrid and European football struck gold
Representative Image Image Credit: ANI

Exactly 60 years ago, in an era when going to a big football match meant cramming together with no thought to social distancing, 127,000 people crowded into Hampden Park in Glasgow to see the European Cup final and were rewarded with "a fantasy staged in heaven". Real Madrid beat Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3 to win a fifth straight European Cup in a game that marked both a start and an ending.

It was just the fifth year of the European Cup's existence, but the brilliance of the football and an international television audience of 70 million, a record for a live broadcast by the BBC, created an unprecedented buzz. The match also marked the end of Real's first period of European domination and a final international peak for a pair of 33-year-olds: Ferenc Puskas and Alfredo Di Stefano.

Real had other stars including winger Francisco Gento, defender Jose Santamaria and captain Jose Maria Zarraga, but Di Stefano and Puskas were the first 'Galacticos'. For Di Stefano this was a fifth straight final but for Puskas, who had joined Real in 1958 and missed the previous year's final against Reims through injury, it was a first.

The Hungarian great was nervous, he recalled in an interview reproduced in the book 'Puskas on Puskas'. He said: "I was 33 years old. I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach in the dressing room beforehand. I was thinking 'you're not 20 anymore, are you up for this?'"

- 'Greatest club side' - Burly forward Richard Kress gave the West Germans the lead after 18 minutes. But Di Stefano and Puskas scored the next six goals.

"I reach the pitch and I feel: 'I can do this. I know how to do this and I want to do it'. That's how I was able to play in a footballer's old age," said Puskas. Intricate passing and relentless movement set up Di Stefano for close-range goals in the 27th and 30th minutes.

"The sort of football that has made them the greatest club side the world has ever known," said BBC commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme. Puskas scored the next four in the space of 26 minutes, starting with a left-foot drive from a narrow-angle in first-half injury time and ending with a spin and shot into the top corner in the 71st.

"It was one of those blissful times when the whole team seemed to play brilliantly and we achieved some kind of footballing perfection," said Puskas. Eintracht hit back two minutes later with a goal by Erwin Stein, but Madrid replied from the kick-off as Di Stefano hit the only goal of the game scored from outside the box with a low left-foot drive.

Di Stefano also struck the woodwork twice. Stein ended the scoring two minutes later.

"We couldn't hear the whistle at the end for the 'Hampden Roar'," said Puskas. "The whole team seemed to strike gold at the same time. It was a privilege to be there." "We couldn't get away from Glasgow. It took a day to leave. We were paraded through the center of town," he said. "Everywhere, cheering crowds greeted us. You'd have thought their team had won." "For a few days at least, life was perfect. It was a wonderful match."

- 'Gobsmacked' In Budapest, the England team preparing to face Hungary, without the exiled Puskas, watched on television.

"It was football on a different level than I'd been taught," recalled Bobby Charlton. "My first thought had been, 'this match is a phoney, edited, film because these players are doing things that aren't possible, aren't real, aren't human.'" England striker Jimmy Greaves said he watched "gobsmacked". One of the youngsters in the crowd was 15-year-old Jimmy Johnstone, later one of the 'Lisbon Lions' in 1967 but at the time a junior at Celtic.

"The match remained the biggest single influence on my career. It was like a fantasy staged in heaven," Johnstone said later. Di Stefano stayed at Real until 1964, Puskas until 1966 when he collected a third European Cup although, as in 1959, he again did not appear in the final.

For both, the game represented a late peak. Before a large live audience, at last, Di Stefano, who never played in a World Cup, and Puskas, who had limped through 1954 final as Hungary let slip a two-goal lead against West Germany, showed what football could be.


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

COVID-19 seems cooking biggest ever global scam

The increasing number of corruption cases on COVID-19 funds from throughout the world and involvement of high profile persons indicate that the countries cant ignore corruption in their pandemic response programs. This has generated the nee...

Health Management Information Systems lack holistic, integrated, and pandemic resilient character

Being a part of the United Nations system, the World Health Organization WHO deserves its share of rebuke for its alleged failure issue COVID-19 health emergency alerts on appropriate time. However, the pandemic has also exposed loopholes i...

Pride in the time of coronavirus: a welcome move online?

This year is different in many ways not least as celebrations are also taking place against the dramatic backdrop of a global health crisis and a resurgence in grassroots activism following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. ...

COVID-19: Weighing up the benefits and limitations of edtech platforms

Edtech companies shouldnt focus on merely pushing contents, but to provide an interactive, effective teaching and learning environment. ...

Videos

Latest News

Delhi govt asks DMs to start COVID-19 survey outside containment zones

The Delhi government has directed district magistrates to start COVID-19 survey outside containment zones, focusing on vulnerable sections in areas with sporadic cases, sources said on Saturday. Earlier this week, the Union Home Ministry ha...

Golf-Matsuyama goes bogey-free to grab clubhouse lead in Detroit

Japans Hideki Matsuyama fired his lowest round since late February to grab the early, third-round clubhouse lead at the Rocket Mortgage Classic on Saturday, while overnight co-leaders Webb Simpson and Chris Kirk teed off. Matsuyama, who mis...

NBA releases restart scrimmage schedule

The NBA on Saturday released the scrimmage schedule for the upcoming 22-team restart. From July 22-28, each team will compete in three inter-squad scrimmages at the ESPN Wide of Sports Complex near Orlando to prepare for the resumption of t...

Chlorine gas leak at plant sickens 70 in southeast Iran

A chlorine gas leak at a petrochemical centre in southeast Iran sickened 70 workers, state-run IRNA news agency reported on Saturday. Most of the workers at the Karun petrochemical centre in the city of Mahshahr in southeast Khuzestan provi...

Give Feedback