Gyula Zsengellér, in the shade of Puskas

Hungary 1954 is one of the most successful football teams of all time, but when many consider that, forgot automatically sensational players that also brought fame to this national team in other periods of time. Now, I choose to talk about Gyula Zsengeller, the man who guided Hungary in the ‘30’s. In fact, he played for his country between 1936 and 1947, in 39 games in which he scored 32 goals. Is for sure, that in those times such performances were often seen, but Gyula was the main player of Hungary that went on playing the final of the FIFA World Cup 1938. The first ever for our neighbors and the one which many said that was arranged for the Italians to win, because Mussolini said so…

Born on 27th of December 1915, in Cegled, Gyula signed in 1936, at 21 years, a professional contract with Ujpest Budapest, team at which he remained exactly the same number of years that he also played for the national football team: 11. So, he became one of the clubs’ legends, a mandatory fact if we consider his 368 goals in 303 matches!! (56 goals only in the 1938-1939, when he played 26 games…). In 1938, 1939, 1943, 1944 and 1945 he was top scorer of the national championship, but his goals helped Ujpest to achieve only two league titles: one in 1939 and one in 1945. Zsengeller also played against Rapid in the Mitropa Cup and scored four goals in the home game, that the squad from Budapest won, 4-1. But, miraculously, Rapid came from behind, and achieved the qualification at home after crushing the Magyars with 4-0!

At the World Cup mentioned above, Gyula managed to score six times, becoming the tournaments’ second top scorer, after the Brazilian Leonidas that netted seven. From all those, the more important were, incontestable, all three that he put in in the 5-1 semifinal against Sweden.

When he was 32 he choose to go and try the Italian league and where, until 35, the shirts of Rome (two seasons, in 34 games, with 6 goals scored) and after that, of Ancona, a squad at which, despite playing one single year, he appeared in 30 matches and netted 18 pieces. It was the time to retreat, but he couldn’t help himself to try an exotic experience: the Colombian League. So, between 1951 and 1953, Gyula played 37 times for Deportivo Samarios (a team founded in 1950 and now called Union Magdalena), scoring 23 goals.

After retiring, he decided to start and training and how else if not by trying different football cultures: first in Italy, at Cosenza, before being football-manager in Colombia and after in Cyprus, where he prepared, between 1953 and 1959 Pezoporikos Larnaca, APOEL and the national football team. Then, the return to Cosenza lasted two years before he went on with Salernitana and Ravenna. After, he returned in Cyprus, where he won his only league title as a coach, in 1954, with Pezoporikos, team that only achieved one more in the rest of its’ history. At the end of his training career he ‘visited’ Greece, where he remained for two years (1972-1974) at Olympiacos Volos. In 1979, he decide to quit his professional football career, even though he was only 63 and retired to live in the same Cyprus, at Nicosia, city in which he saw the day light for the last time, on 29th of March 1999.

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