Hungarian football is in mourning for one-time European Footballer of the Year Florian Albert who has died in Budapest aged 70 from complications after heart surgery.

Albert played all his senior career as a graceful, skilled centre-forward with Ferencvaros. He scored 256 goals in 351 league matches for them in a 16-year career before being forced to retire prematurely by injury in 1974. He won four championships, a Hungarian cup and the 1965 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. ‘Fradi’ beat Juventus in a single-leg final in the Italian’s own Stadio Olimpico in Turin.

In 1967 Albert became the only Hungarian player ever to be voted European Footballer of the Year and the Ferencváros stadium now bears his name.

Albert scored 31 goals in 75 internationals and was the key figure as Hungary rebuilt its national team following the defections of the Puskas era players in the wake of the Hunagrian Revolution in 1956. He was joint four-goal top scorer at the 1962 World Cup when Hungary reached the quarter-finals in Chile and inspired a third-place finish in the 1964 European Championship (then known as the European Nations Cup).

One of the greatest performances, however, was in the 1966 World Cup in England when Hungary inflicted Brazil’s first defeat – since one by their own fellow countrymen – in the finals in 12 years. The match, played at Goodison Park, was widely considered as the finest in quality of the tournament. Hungary won 3-1 with goals from Ferenc Bene, Laszlo Farkas and Kalman Meszoly but with Albert pulling all the strings. However goalkeeping errors saw them lose 2-1 to the Soviet Union in the quarter-finals.

By Keir Radnedge

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