Date: 17th November 2006 at 8:57pm
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Former Hungarian great Ferenc Puskas died today morning, at the age of 79. He was the captain of the Hungarian team that beat England 6-3 in 1953 and became the first ever contitental side to triumph in the Wembley. United manager Sir Alex Ferguson praised the phenomenal inside-left whose dazzling skills and footballing brain earned him a place among the all-time greats such as Pele, Charlton or Maradona.

‘I was lucky to see Puskas play quite a few times,’ said Ferguson. ‘I have many memories of him. I was at the European Cup final in 1960 but I also saw him score the only goal against Rangers at Ibrox, before he got a hat-trick against them when Real scored six in the second leg.’

He added: ‘In his day he was a special player without question, part of that great period for Hungarian football. How they did not win the World Cup in 1954 is beyond me.

‘It is sad news. But when a great player like that passes, you can at least reflect on what a great player he was and the great games he played in.’

Fergie did not forget the so-called “Game of the Century”, too, when the Magical Magyars thrashed England at Wembley – and he did not forget Billy Wright’s embarassment…

‘There was one point when Puskas cut back inside Billy Wright and took him so far out of the game he had to pay three and six to get back into the ground,’ he laughed.

‘He was a marvellous player in a fantastic team. The following month they went to Scotland and beat them as well.

‘The European Cup final at Hampden was amazing. He scored four then but he also got three against Benfica in 1962 when Real Madrid lost.

‘Can you imagine scoring a hat-trick in a European Cup final and not winning? That is amazing.’