The official website of the most famous Hungarian, one of the greatest footballers of all time



26 Apr. 2015.

As part of our series looking at the football antiques contained within the Puskás Institute's collection, a series which the Hungarian edition of FourFourTwo magazine assists with, we today look at a remarkable document; the first contract signed by Puskás with Real Madrid which was exhibited in the Bernabéu stadium in November 2013 and a copy of which was subsequently given to the Puskás Institute.

The contract is the source of great pride in Hungarian football history, one during the course of which was filled with great deeds and unimaginable successes between 1958 and the summer of 1962. 

Many thought the four-year length was too long for a fat, old player such as Puskás and there is no doubt the 150,000 pesetas-a-year signing-on fee was down to the generosity of club president Mr Santiago Bernabéu. This amount, a total of 150,000 dollars, suitably covered the loans which Puskás and his family had taken out over previous months, amongst which was one from their friend and fellow football star László Kubala at FC Barcelona, and additionally, according to the contract signed and witnessed on 16th August 1958, Puskás received 3,000 pesetas per month as his salary (based on this document there is no evidence of match- or other bonuses).
The paperwork is not too complicated anyway and Real were of course in such a situation that anyone receiving a contract offer didn't need to run to a lawyer to have it checked thoroughly. What is more, Puskás' contract only differed by a few lines from those two-sided printed template documents which, upon agreement, were individually tailored to and signed by the other players. These sections added by hand included the amounts and the duration of the contract, meaning that Puskás' contract expired at the end of the 1961/62 season. One could hardly have imagined at that start that by the end of the agreement Puskás would have won the European Cup twice and been finalist another time, won the Intercontinental Cup, two Spanish championship titles, one Spanish Cup and two La Liga top goalscorer crowns - Puskás really was a key performer in Real's successes!

Aged 31, Puskás stretched every sinew to lose 18 kilograms of weight and make himself a starter amongst the world-class talent in the Real Madrid team (Photo: PUSKÁS-COM)
We already know that it was not easy for this Hungarian star to begin his career at Real Madrid because of the mistrust of the coach, the prejudices of his peers and the excess weight he had to struggle with. However, the subsequent successes were thanks to the battles he successfully fought; he will be recalled not just as one of Hungary's geniuses, but as the greatest Hungarian sportsperson ever and one of the greatest footballers of all time.

At the age of 31 he was able to radically change his lifestyle to suit being one of the best in the world; he learnt the Spanish language perfectly and contributed hundreds of goals and assists to help Real Madrid succeed. By the end of his first season he had unquestionably secured his place as the number 10 and in 1960 he reached heights which are still today unmatched; Puskás scored four goals to help his club to a 7-3 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in the European Cup final in Glasgow and their fifth such success in a row, before then scoring twice and setting up two further goals as Real beat Penarol 5-1 in Madrid to become the first Intercontinental Cup winners, then recognised as effectively the World Cup for clubs.
By the end of the four-year term of his contract Puskás had become a Spanish citizen and an international footballer for Spain, starting all three World Cup matches in Chile in 1962.
That the contract came into being was of course to the enduring merit of Emil Östreicher who, as team manager of the Budapest Honvéd team, had built up a network of international contacts in the period of and subsequent to the 1956 revolution in Hungary and, even before Puskás arived, was already working at Real. He was firmly of the conviction that Puskás would be of use to the club and although President Bernabéu was convinced of exactly the opposite, eventually the Hungarian administrator found a way to engineer a chance for the player. He did not regret it; the small, two-sided A4 page opened a new chapter in the life of the club and of Ferenc Puskás.

The Hungarian striker was deliriously happy and wrote with self-confidence a letter to his friend Nándor Bányai that "my life has been sorted". He was right. In contrast with those who had been unable to understand why a four-year contract had been given to a 31-year old player, his agreement was extended five more times by a year each time until the end of the 1966/67 season when Puskás had reached the age of 40...



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