By 90Min
March 01, 2018

Hungarian football and it's historical stars are severely under publicised. Where other countries' football is heavily documented and their former heroes are cemented in modern football culture, some nations' have been lost in history; with the Hungary side of 1954 falling strongly under this category. 

Brazil had Pelé, Germany had Gerd Müller, Holland had Johan Cruyff, all of which we know well and are fully aware of their talents and importance to their nations' footballing heritage. However one figure that often slips under the radar, is Hungary legend Sándor Kocsis. 

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For all of his exploits in the game, the fact that most of the modern footballing generation may not know of Kocsis and his goalscoring feats is almost criminal. The iconic forward's legacy has even been slightly overshadowed by his former teammate in Ferenc Puskás, but during the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland, Kocsis put his name up in lights as Hungary's main man. 

Puskas' existence has clouded Kocsis' legacy. Everybody remembers Puskas, from his name adorning the Hungary national stadium to being synonymous with the FIFA Best Goal award at the Ballon d'Or awards, but it is unjust to suggest that he was Hungary's best ever player. 

Admittedly, Puskas remains Hungary's outright top scorer in history with an almost unbelievable record of 84 goals in 85 appearances, but as respectable as those numbers are, Kocsis' goalscoring feats are arguably more impressive and definitely more efficient. 

Puskas made his international debut three years before 'The Man With the Golden Head' did - as Kocsis was so often called due to his immense aerial ability - winning his first cap in 1945, allowing him to play 17 more games than his counterpart. 

Many believe that it is only because of this that Puskas remains as Hungary's all time top scorer, and not down to the fact he was a superior goalscorer to his compatriot. 

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The 1954 World Cup in Switzerland proved to be the pinnacle of Kocsis' career. 'The Man With the Golden Head' broke numerous records in this edition of the highly anticipated tournament and scored a hat trick in the opening fixture as Hungary battered South Korea in a 9-0 win, before going on to better that with four goals in his side's emphatic 8-3 win over West Germany. 

After just two games, Hungary had scored 17 goals with Kocsis bagging seven of them in what was a scintillating start to his and his nation's World Cup campaign, and a quarter-final encounter against Brazil awaited. 

The fixture, dubbed the 'Battle of Berne', saw three red cards given out in what was one of the most brutal games in the history of the tournament. Nevertheless, Hungary ran out 4-2 winners thanks to a Kocsis double which took the clinical poacher's tally to nine goals after three games. 

An enticing semi final between Hungary and Uruguay followed, as both teams battled it out in a hotly contested fixture which ended up going to extra time with the score at two goals apiece. 

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In what was a surprise to absolutely nobody, 'The Man With the Golden Head' scored two goals in the additional period to send the Uruguayans home with their tails between their legs and set up a do-or-die battle against Germany. 

The Hungarians went into the game holding a psychological edge over their opponents having already beaten them 8-3 in the group stage. 

After just eight minutes at the Wankdorf Stadium, the Hungarians were 2-0 up thanks to goals from Puskas and Zoltan Czibor before disaster struck. 

A goal from the Germans just two minutes later gave them a lifeline, before a 19th minute equaliser brought the two teams back level. 

Just six minutes before the biggest game in world football was set for extra time, Germany completed the turnaround through Helmut Rahn to make the score 3-2 and leave the 60,000 inside the Wankdorf Stadium in shock. 

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For all their dependency on the tournament's leading scorer, Kocsis just simply did not turn up in the final despite scoring in every other round, and finishing the tournament with 11 goals in five games. 

The fact that Kocsis and the Hungarian team of 1954 failed to win the World Cup remains one of football's most significant injustices. 

In addition to the aforementioned record he set by scoring two hat tricks, 'The Man With the Golden Head's' tally of 11 goals broke the record for most goals in a single World Cup previously held by Brazil's Ademir, and has only been bettered once in history by France's Just Fontaine. 

Furthermore, Kocsis is one of just 12 men to record a double digit number of goals in a single campaign, and his average return of 2.2 goals per game at a single World Cup is still unbeaten to this very day. 

Sadly, the 'Magical Magyars' as the exquisite Hungarian team of 1954 were commonly known as were never afforded the chance to build and progress as one of the world's true powerhouses. The Hungarian revolution began in 1956, and Kocsis fled from his home nation, becoming a refugee before joining Young Fellows Zurich in Switzerland. 

One uneventful season in Zurich was followed by a fruitful spell at Barcelona, where he would win two La Liga titles including the domestic double in his first season in Catalonia. 

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By the end of his 22-year career, 'The Man With the Golden Head' had scored 272 goals in 325 games before his retirement in 1966 at the age of 37. Following his decision to hang up his boots, Kocsis opened up a restaurant in Barcelona called Tete D'Or, while also working as a coach at the Catalan club. 

Hungary's under-appreciated star then went on to manage Hercules, although a tragic diagnosis of Leukaemia and then stomach cancer cut his coaching career abruptly short. Fatally, on 22 July 1979, Kocsis fell to his death from the fourth floor of a Barcelona hospital, with the incident still clouded in ambiguity over whether it was an accident or an act of suicide. 

What is certain, however, is that Kocsis' legacy has been woefully under publicised when in reality he should be remembered as one of the greatest strikers the world has ever seen. 

Perhaps if it wasn't for Puskas' brilliance, the footballing world would come to appreciate 'The Man With the Golden Head abundantly more than do at the moment. 

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