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People might not even have to like soccer to know who Ferenc Puskás, the legendary Golden Team member and the former world class player of Real Madrid is. Even if the person is not even Hungarian. The following article though focuses on tourists who like football, and preparing to go to Hungary, or already being here would like to pay tribute to Puskás, alias Pancho or Uncle Öcsi, as we call him in his home country.
In the following lines, I would like to show how Hungary commemorates the legacy of the legendary footballer, who passed away in 2006, and what kind of places I suggest people who interested visiting.
Ferenc Puskás rests in the Roman Catholic church can be found in the downtown of Budapest, St. Stephen's Basilica, which is the most important ecclestiastical building in Hungary. Beside Puskás, Gyula Grosics, Sándor Kocsis and Jenő Buzánszky of the legendary Golden Team (most successful Hungarian team) received the final rest here, in this international pilgrimage place. The basilica also served as the funeral home of Puskás; the ceremony took place on 7th December 2006. At his funeral world stars and celebrities appeared, such as Real Madrid's delegation with former teammates, like Gento, Santamaría, but his former Panathinaikos players also came to mourn. Ramón Calderón, Real's president at the time gave speech, and during the funeral mass such individuals were present, like Franz Beckenbauer, Michel Platini and Sir Bobby Charlton. On behalf of the nation, President of the Republic, László Sólyom said goodbye to the role model of millions of people, while during their valedictions, Juan Antonio Samaranch, chair of the International Olympic Committee and Joseph Blatter, FIFA's first man praised Puskás. Tens of thousands of people gathered at the funeral and watched the ceremony on TV, as Hungarian national television broadcasted the burial live.
One of Europe's largest football academy centers was inaugurated in Felcsút on the 80th birthday of Ferenc Puskás. The academy complex, located 40 kilometers from Budapest, took up the most famous Hungarian’s name on 1st April 2007, with the still existing permission and support from the Puskás family. The founder, Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary, who is from Felcsút, emphasized at the inauguration: the Puskás Academy primarily bring up and educate true people, just like Puskás was, who, in addition, play excellent football.
To have the street renamed after Ferenc Puskás, where his former team, Budapest Honvéd plays at, even amendments had to be approved by the bodies in charge, so that now beside the mentioned stadium - which by the way wears the name of Puskás' best friend and the other member of the Golden Team, József Bozsik - the Ferenc Puskás Football Academy is also located in Puskás Ferenc street. The public space was renamed on the 1-year anniversary of Puskás' death, although earlier it could happen only after the quarter-century anniversary of the particular person’s death the soonest.
Ferenc Puskás' favourite Hungarian and Spanish dishes are served by the Symbol restaurant's unique sports bar with contemporary photographs and souvenirs in it. The Puskás Pancho Sport Pub welcomes its guests in a highly reputable part of Budapest, in a building, which stood already at the end of the 1700s. The pub has been designed and furnished with the highest standards in order to be worthy of the best Hungarian footballer of all time. The pictures and souvenirs of Uncle Öcsi, his favorite Hungarian and Spanish dishes, as well as the unique, real cowhide floor give the original, contemporary atmosphere of the pub. Some of the ingredients of the food are bought in Puskás’ former favorite shops by the chef, and many recipes are made based on the advice of Ferenc Puskás’ wife. Gourmet soups, real Spanish quesadillas, original coated bread (bread with egg-coat) and cabbage „cvekedli” – all of them are Puskás’ favourites.
Beyond the above mentioned, even a primary school was named after Puskás in Budapest, and the the national stadium, currently being under construction, will be also named as Puskás Ferenc Stadium. Just like its predecessor, which was the venue of the Hungarian national team and other sports events for decades. The construction will end by the end of 2019 as planned, and even a Puskás Museum will be built in it. In the following list, I briefly mention the addresses of other memorials, as statues and plaques have also been revealed for the most famous Hungarian’s memory:
Bécsi út 57, Budapest H-1036 (group of statues)
Kánai út 2/D, Budapest H-1112 (memorial plaque, Hungarian Football Association)
Puskás Ferenc tér, Zalaszabar H-8743 (statue)
Berzsenyi u. 8., Budapest H-1191 (Puskás Ferenc Primary School)
Istvánmezei út 3-5, Budapest H-1146 (Puskás Ferenc Stadium, under construction)
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