NEWS | 14/11/2016 | Alberto Navarro"When I talk about Pancho, I just have to get to my feet. He was exceptionally gifted, a prodigy", declared Amancio in the session organised to pay tribute to the Hungarian.
The presidential box at the Santiago Bernabéu played host to a deserved tribute to the legacy of Ferenc Puskas in a week which marks the 10th anniversary of his death. The event, which was moderated by journalist and writer, Julio César Iglesias, featured a video with footage of the former Hungarian player, before a series of addresses from figures including Real Madrid's honorary president, Paco Gento; other teammates, such as Amancio, Santamaría and Pachín; his biographer, György Szöllősi; and José Tóth-Zele, who was a coach during Puskas' playing days in Hungary.
In his address, Amancio commented: "When I talk about Pancho, I just have to get to my feet. I've not known of any other player who was a midfielder and over the years went on to become a centre forward. In 99% of cases, players tend to end up playing in deeper roles. He possessed great accuracy in his left foot, I've not seen anyone with the same level of accuracy. Di Stéfano always had a great deal of respect for him. He was exceptionally gifted, a prodigy who was capable of doing exactly what his team needed of him in the confines of a square metre".
Gento: "A goalscorer like no other"
"He was a well-loved player and a great person. He had a lot of affection and kindness to give. He didn't have any enemies and as a goalscorer he was like no other". Pachín, who lined up against Puskas and later became a teammate, had the following to say: "He was one of the best players I've known. When I was playing for Osasuna, I was told to mark him. He drove me crazy and at half-time the coach told me to switch and mark Di Stéfano. We later played together at Real Madrid and were also neighbours".
Meanwhile, Santamaría shared an entertaining story about him: "He had been an olympic champion and a World Cup runner-up. He didn't play for a year and when he arrived, he had a bit of a belly on him. Gradually he lost it and in his very first move in his first match he demonstrated his ability. He had it all as a player. There's a story that took place in this stadium in which we were awarded a free-kick 40 metres from goal. He lined himself up, let fly and it went in. The referee ruled the goal out. He took it again and put it in the top corner in exactly the same spot. He then turned to the referee and asked him: 'Shall I take it again?'
Excellent human qualities
José Tóth-Zele and György Szöllősi praised his qualities as a human being. The former noted that, "he was an extraordinary person. He wanted everyone around him to be happy. He did a lot for his teammates". This sentiment was echoed by his biographer: "He provided just as many assists as the number of goals he scored. When he arrived at Real Madrid he was far from being in top condition. Here he was once again driven to get back in shape, when everyone thought that he was going to retire and yet he changed his lifestyle for Real Madrid".
Floral tribute at Real Madrid City
Hours before the event, an emotional floral tribute took place at Real Madrid City, alongside Puskas' bust, which is located at the entrance to the academy building. The ceremony was attended by the club's director of institutional relations, Emilio Butragueño; Gento, Amancio, Santamaría and Pachín; the Hungarian ambassador to Spain, Győri Enikő; the vice-president of the Hungarian Parliament, Gergely Gulyás; the first secretary of the Hungarian embassy, Farkas Vajk; the senator and president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Pedro Agramunt; and representatives from the Ferenc Puskas Academy and the club's Hungarian supporters' groups.