The announcement of FIFA's nominees for the Goal of the Year Award always creates a buzz at Icons. Football is our passion, and nothing gets our juices flowing like sensational goals. Leo Messi, Wayne Rooney, Zlatan Ibrahimovic - this year's list features some stellar names. But there is one man who knew more about scoring goals than any of them... We only wish we could have signed him up at Icons.
Ferenc Puskás was captain and chief magician of Hungary's great 'Magical Magyars' team of the 1950s and the most prolific European goalscorer of all time. Now, you may well be familiar with the name of the Real Madrid legend, but how much do you really know about Puskás? In 2009 the FIFA Goal of the Year Award was renamed in his honour. But before we take a look at all the nominees for the 2011 FIFA Puskás Award, we'll spare some time for the man who lent it his name.
In a remarkable career that lasted from 1943 until 1966, Ferenc Puskás - who passed away at the age of 79 in 2006 - scored 616 goals in 620 club games and 83 in 84 for Hungary. He won an Olympic gold medal, ten domestic titles in Hungary and Spain, and a trio of European Cups with Real Madrid.
The short, stocky striker made his footballing breakthrough at Hungarian side Kispest, where he scored a remarkable 187 goals in 177 games between 1943 and 1949. Kispest became the Hungarian Army team in 1949 and changed its name to Budapest Honved, hence the nickname 'The Galloping Major' that Puskás later acquired. During the 50s Puskás - who had a sledgehammer of a left foot - scored 165 goals in 164 games for Honved, and thrived in a Hungary side that dominated world football.
The 'Magical Magyars' were Olympic Champions in 1952 and runners-up at the 1954 World Cup, where Puskás played (and scored) in the final against West Germany despite injury. In the years prior to that unfortunate 3-2 defeat, Puskás had been the inspiration behind an unbeaten run of 32 games by Hungary's 'Golden Team'. That run included the 'Match of the Century' against England at Wembley in 1953 in which Puskás scored a brace in a legendary 6-3 win. He scored two more when they hammered them 7-1 a year later in Budapest too. The Magyars were broken up after the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 and Puskás emigrated to Spain. After refusing to return to Hungary he was banned for two years by UEFA but eventually joined Real Madrid in 1958.
For an all-conquering Madrid side, Puskás smashed 242 goals in 262 games, winning the Spanish Pichichi four times in eight seasons. Between 1960-65 Puskás won five consecutive La Liga titles with Madrid. He won consecutive European Cups in his first two years in Spain too, and won it again in 1966. In 1962 he even turned out for the Spain's national side at the World Cup in Chile having taken Spanish nationality. Still a lethal force till the end, he finally retired at the age of 38 in 1966.
Back to the present now, and the list of nominees for the 2011 FIFA Puskás Award features some goals that the great man himself would be proud of. Watch them at the links below and let us know your favourite on Twitter @icons_football
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Benjamin De Ceulaer (Belgium)
Giovani Dos Santos (Mexico)
Julio Gomez (Mexico)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden)
Lisandro Lopez (Argentina)
Leo Messi (Argentina)
Heather O'Reilly (USA)
Wayne Rooney (England)
Dejan Stankovic (Serbia)