Hungarian legend Ferenc Puskas, one of the greatest strikers of all-time and, arguably, best player the pitch has ever known, has finally succumbed to his 6 year fight with illness.
Throughout the 1st half of his prodigious career, he played for the "Magical Magyars"--perhaps the best national squad ever fielded--that dominated the world soccer from the late 40's to middle 50's (winning Olympic Gold at Helsinski in '52, finishing 2nd to West Germany in the '54 WC--after a controversial annullment of the last-minute equaliser by Puskas himself--and running an unbeaten streak of over 30 games) until the '56 Revolution forced an exodus of soccer greats, including the legendary Puskas.
After political turmoil led him to flee his home country, Puskas had a 2nd incarnation playing for what perhaps was the best club team in history, the Real Madrid merengues from the 2nd half of the '50s and the beginning of the 60's. Here he formed the most phenomenal striker partnership ever known to this great sport: Alfredo DiStefano and Puskas himself--2 Batmans and no Robin, a dynamic duo that would lead Real to heights theretofore unprecedented...and since un-reprised.
Armed with a lethal left foot and precise passing skills, he scored 83 goals in 84 matches with the Hungarian national team, as well as 512 times in 528 appearences with Real--including 35 strikes in 37 games in the Europpean Cup, an unrivalled proficiency at the loftiest of levels.
Those lucky to have seen him play, should carry forever such glorious memories; those of us not blessed with such a chance but who love the game and its magnificent history, should remember his legend and wish we might be so lucky to someday catch a glimpse of a footballer who may dare come close to escalating the peaks reserved only for the soccer immortals.
Rest in peace, Ferenc Puskas, alongside the Pantheon of Soccer Gods.
Ps. Two short tribute articles from ESPN: