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IT WAS RED, LIKE A CHERRY
06 Sep. 2016.
In our series – with the help of the Hungarian FourFourTwo – we take a look at sports memorabilia under the stewardship of the Puskás Institute. This time it’s time to delve into the history of the Hungarian national team’s cherry-red shirt, the book Aranycsapat Kincseskönyve being the result of extensive research work carried out by the Puskás Institute.
The end came when Lothar Matthäus, who, as Hungarian national team coach, always knew best, proposed that the team should wear all red because players would be able to better notice their teammates if they wore red socks than if they wore green socks which are harder to see due to being the same colour as the grass. The kit was even ordered but its introduction fortunately never took place.
The historic understanding that the Hungarian national team’s first choice kit should comprise of red shirt, white shorts and green socks – the colours of the national tricolour – thus remains unchanged, albeit over the years the once characteristic cherry red shirt has somehow become lighter. The red in the national flag is also by now brighter, more of a red than a bordeaux, yet it is still said that a more traditional look – conjuring up memories of the glory years when the world’s very best feared the cherry-red shirted Hungarians – would be nicer.
An original cherry red shirt of József Bozsik is in the possession of the Puskás Institute (the photo of which appears in the Aranycsapat Kincseskönyve next to Hidegkuti’s white shirt worn in the Olympic final).
A photo – albeit colourised later – of the more original shirt shows post-war star Ferenc Deák sporting one with the MLSZ logo before it was replaced by the communist one, and the shirt is cherry red.
Even adidas yielded to tradition when, thanks to István Kutas’ friendship with brand founder Adi Dassler, the firm became the team’s kit supplier for the 1964 Olympics, a partnership which has lasted more than half a century barring a short hiatus. Many remember the teams of the Ferenc Bene or Tibor Nyilasi era wearing the unmistakable cherry red, and different national youth teams as well as amateur Budapest clubs still wore these old national team shirts with the Kádár coat of arms up until the mid 1990s like witness to times past. After that, somehow cherry red became bright red, albeit the original was characteristic of and unique to the Hungarian team, the Aranycsapat in particular making it world famous. With nearly all photos from that time being black and white, retro shirt manufacturers also fall into the mistake of attributing red, and not cherry red shirts to the Magical Magyars.
Recently, a Brazilian collector attempted to sell a 1954 Puskás shirt to the institute for the sum of a few thousand Euros. Everything about the shirt was authentic; the lettering style of the number 10, the material, the position of the badge, the v-neck style, they all conformed to pictures of the original shirt. The only thing which proved beyond all reasonable doubt that it was a fake was the colour. It was bright red.
Photos: Puskás Intézet