Written by @transferfeed
When Hungary made it to the Last 16 of the European Championship last summer you may have thought it was one of the country's greatest footballing achievements but they were once, surprisingly, a footballing powerhouse.
Hungary made the World Cup 1938 Final where they faced the holders Italy but unfortunately lost out with the Italians retaining their title after an exciting 4-2 win!
14 years later Hungary found themselves as favourites for the 1954 World Cup as they went into the tournament as current Olympic champions & being led by the best player in the world at that time, Ferenc Puskás it looked like nothing could go wrong. Hungary strolled through the group defeating South Korea 9-0 & West Germany 8-3 with Honvéd star Sándor Kocsis scoring 4 of the 8 goals against the West Germans. The Hungarians then beat 1950 World Cup Runners up Brazil 4-2 in the Quarter Finals with Kocsis scoring a brace, that being his 8th goal of the tournament in just 3 games. South Americans Uruguay gave Hungary a scare in the Semi's with the game levelled at 2-2 it went to extra time. Kocsis came to the rescue once more scoring an Extra Time Second Half brace! Then it came to the final where Hungary came up against West Germany, the team they had dismantled 8-3 in the group stages. They went into the game as heavy favourites but the West Germans managed to pull of "The Miracle of Berne" winning the game 3-2! The Hungary side of the 1950s are now seen as many as the "greatest team to never win a World Cup."
2 years after the World Cup thousands protested in the country's capital of Budapest against Soviet Rule. The USSR sent in "the red army" to deal with the rebellion. Thousands were killed in what is now know as "The Hungarian Uprising." This led to many Hungarian clubs' best talents leaving the country & the national teams stars to stop representing their country. Hungary's greatest ever player, Ferenc Puskás added insult to injury when he got the all clear to play for Spain in the 1962 World Cup. Despite all of this, players like Bozsik & Hidegkuti stayed with the Hungarian national team & their Hungarian clubs.
With a new flock of talented Hungarians coming through they made it to the 1958 World Cup & even made it as far as the Quarter Finals in the 1962 & 1966 World Cup's! They took it one step further in the Euro's making it to the Semi's in 1964 & 1972.
In 1982 Hungary even beat their own record of biggest win in a World Cup match, previously their 9-0 win over South Korea they blew it out of the water in 1982 whilst legendary Hungarian manager Mészöly was at the helm as they beat El Salvador 10-1. Domestic clubs continued to flirt with Europe's elite with MTK Budapest making the final of the European Cup Winners Cup only to lose out to Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon but the following year Ferencvaros managed to win the competition! Ferencvaros won the Inter-Fairs Cup in 1967 defeating AS Roma & Manchester United along the way before, ultimately beating Juventus in the final. Albert was Ferencvaros star player that season with the Hungarian winning the 1967 Ballon D'or!
In 1989 Hungary faced another political crisis. Many thought "if they could face a political crisis in 1956 then they can face it now." They were wrong. With its own ministry, its own minister and government officials, and alas its own budget, sports in Hungary was at an all time low. The communist regime in the country fell apart & Hungarian sport was completely neglected. During the communist regime the government funded sport but without the regime many footballing teams went to ruins [or almost].
In recent times Hungary came close to qualifying for France 98' but lost to Yugoslavia with an aggregate score of 12-1. The last time Hungary qualified for a World Cup was in 1986 & the last time before Euro 2016 they had qualified for a European Championships was 1972. The Hungarian Top Flight or the Nemzeti Bajnokság has attracted foreign players like current Burnley defender Matthew Lowton - who spent a season on loan at Ferencvaros during his time at Sheffield United - & former Italian international Guisseppe Signori who joined MFC Sopron in 2005, at the age of 37. Although all of this, Hungary have never been able to attract the calibre of player they used too & have been unable to produce world class stars anymore.
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