Iconic forward Ferenc Puskas, hailed as a visionary who changed the way football was seen in this country, has died from pneumonia, aged 79.
Puskas played in the Hungary team who inflicted England’s first defeat on home soil with a 6-3 thrashing at Wembley in 1953 - followed by an even more embarrassing 7-1 defeat in Budapest a year later.
The loss forever dispelled the superiority assumed by most English players and supporters until that point and forced a modernisation of tactics and attitudes which eventually bore fruit in the same stadium 13 years later when England won the World Cup.
Sir Tom Finney was a spectator at the Wembley clash with the ‘Magical Magyars’, and claimed Puskas’ performance was on a different level to anything seen on these shores before.
"I remember him, of course, from the two English games," he said."I had the pleasure of watching him at Wembley and gave a wonderful performance. It was really something to behold.
"It was an exhibition of wonderful football. We’d never seen the likes of it."
Goalkeeper Bert Williams, who was part of the Wolves team which famously beat Puskas’ Hungarian club side Honved in December 1954, was a non-playing member of the England squad that day at Wembley and was also left dumbfounded by Puskas’ brilliance.
"He was, without doubt, the best inside forward I ever saw play," he said.
"The goal he scored with a left-foot shot, one of two he scored that day, was the best I ever witnessed."
Puskas, who became known as the ‘Galloping Major’ due to his time served in the army, was revered as his country’s most famous son, and the Hungarian FA has announced a raft of tributes ahead of this weekend’s games.
A one-minute silence will held at all domestic fixtures, while black armbands will be issued and flags set to half-mast.
Puskas’ place among football’s greatest players is secure after a remarkable career which brought unprecedented success on the domestic, European and international fronts.
He is perhaps best remembered in this country for his performances for Hungary, although one of the best international teams ever seen was to endure World Cup disappointment in 1954 when they lost to West Germany in the final, in a tournament that saw Puskas hampered by injury.
In all, he scored 83 matches in 84 games for Hungary, but enjoyed even more success at club level after signing for Spanish giants Real Madrid in 1958.
Five league titles and three European Cups followed, including one secured by the famous 7-3 thrashing of Eintracht Frankfurt in the Hampden Park final of 1960, in which Puskas scored four times.
Another famous member of the Madrid ‘Golden Team’ was Alfredo di Stefano and he led the tributes to his former colleague.
"I have lost a friend and a star. Puskas was that, as a player and as a person," he said. "The last time I was with him was two years ago, when all of his former team-mates travelled to Budapest to pay tribute to him.
"Puskas has been one of the best footballers of all time."
Another team-mate and Madrid legend, defender Jose Santamaria, mourned the loss of the close friend he affectionately called ‘Pancho’.
"We knew he was very ill but as usual, you never expect someone to die," Santamaria said.
"Pancho’s death has saddened me because I’ve lost a friend who I admired.
"No one should doubt that Puskas was a great person and an exceptional player. He was a natural winner and left a mark not only in European football but worldwide."
Real Madrid have expressed their "profound sadness" at the 79-year-old’s death.
"The Madridista family feel a profound sadness for the loss of one of their greatest legends," read a statement on Real’s website, www.realmadrid.com.
Club president Calderon Ramon added: "This is one of the saddest days for the Madrid fans, I can assure you that it is the most painful day since I took the presidency.
"The Madrid fans, and those of my age in particular, will feel a great emptiness for the loss of one our childhood heroes."
Puskas retired in 1966 and enjoyed some success as a coach, leading Panathinaikos to the 1971 European Cup final, and later returning home to briefly become caretaker manager of the national team.
He was in intensive care in a Budapest hospital for two months prior to his death from pneumonia, and had been in care for six years with Alzheimer’s disease.