• A statue of Ferenc Puskás unveiled in Melbourne. (Les Murray)
A bronze statue of the late Ferenc Puskás has been unveiled in Melbourne’s Olympic Park on Saturday as one of the true giants of world football took pride of place among sporting luminaries at the site where he made his mark on Australian sport.
4 Feb 2017 - 4:43 PM  UPDATED 4 Feb 2017 - 4:43 PM

Puskás is considered one of the all-time greats of the world game, with an extraordinary 598 goals in 614 matches for his native Hungarian national team which dominated world football in the 1950s, and for Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid, among others.

Puskás brought his unique football legacy to Australia nearly three decades ago when he coached South Melbourne to National Soccer League championship success in 1991 at the former Olympic Park Stadium. 

Melbourne has become only the fourth city in the world to host a memorial statue of ‘The Galloping Major’, marking his contribution to the places where he left an indelible legacy including Madrid (Spain), Athens (Greece) and Budapest (Hungary). 

The statue was presented to the people of Victoria by the Hungarian government at an official commemoration ceremony on Saturday, attended by a visiting delegation of senior Hungarian government and sporting officials. 

Australian delegate to the Puskás Foundation Board of Trustees, Robert Belteky, led the initiative to commemorate Puskás’ contribution to Melbourne’s rich sporting heritage, with SBS’ own Les Murray hosting the event. 

“It’s fitting that the world’s sporting capital becomes home to one of the genuine legends of the global game”, Belteky said.

“Puskás is by far the biggest football name ever to grace our shores and his goal-scoring record is unrivalled, even by the standards of past and modern-day greats of the game such as Pele, Maradona, Messi, and Ronaldo. 

“Puskás made a profound contribution to the game worldwide, and we’re extremely fortunate that he chose to bring his football know-how to Australia.

“We’re grateful to the Hungarian government for making the statue available to the people of Melbourne, and we thank the Victorian government for accepting the gesture to commemorate the great man’s contribution to our renowned sporting heritage."