The Black Panther

Hungary 1954, what a great team and all thanks to brilliant players such were Puskas, Kocsis, Hidegkuti, Czibor, Bozsik and Grosics, the last one, being the goalkeeper of the legendary squad. A type of player that doesn’t come in front, but that has a key role in his teams’ success. Hungary didn’t win the World Cup in 1954, despite being certain favorites. In the last game, they lost the trophy in front of Germany, even though they beat the same opponent with 8-3 in the group stage. More importantly, Hungary had 2-0 after 10 minutes in the final, but until the end, the Germans came from behind and won 3-2. Gyula Grosics conceded a quite large number of goals during the tournament, but his parades were more appreciated as he was chosen in the best eleven of the World Cup played in Switzerland.

Gyula saw the day light on 4th of February 1926 in Dorog and started to play professionally at Dorogi FC, a team that in all its history only managed to play a Cup final, in 1954. Grosics played there from 1945 to 1947, before joining MATEOSZ Budapest, in the same year when he won his first cap for the national team of Hungary. Known as ‘The Black Panther’, Gyula remained the first choice goalkeeper until 1962, when he was 36. During this period he made it at three consecutive World Cups, starting with 1954 and continuing with 1958 and 1962. In the early ‘50’s, Hungary was a very powerful squad, that also managed to crush England in two matches. First, they gave a ‘light’ 6-3 on Wembley, in 1953 and a year after, before the World Cup, the Magyars stunned by giving seven and receiving only one in a home encounter and of course, Grosics played in both disputes.

In 15 years, the goalkeeper gathered 86 matches for his country and in all this time he tasted also the success at club level. In 1950, he signed with Honved Budapest, team with which he won four national championships (1950, 1952, 1954 and 1955). After 125 matches played for the team from the capital, in 1957 he decided to go and play for Tatabanya, side at which he stayed until the end of his career, in 1962. Gyula didn’t won here any trophy, but helped in the construction of a team, that managed to play the semifinal of the Intertoto Cup, in the following year, a competition that, in those days didn’t belong to UEFA, organization that took its prerogatives only in 1995.

In 2008, at 82 years, Gyula had the power to admit that he finished with football for good. Why is that? Well, because he received the opportunity to finally play for the team that is the closest to his heart: Ferencvaros. Nearly half a century ago, the communist party forbad him to sign with the great rivals of Honved, but in March 2008 he was invited to give the first kick of the friendly between Ferencvaros and Sheffield United. He received tremendous ovation for the local supporters from ‘Florian Albert’ Stadium and after he left the field to let in the ‘substitute’ goalkeeper. This was the perfect appreciation for a stunning career and a top goalkeeper.

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