FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter was in Budapest on Tuesday to unveil the FIFA Puskas Award, a new honour designed to celebrate the finest goal of the year. With the widow of the 'Galloping Major' in attendance, President Blatter then held a press conference to mark the event.
The FIFA delegation began their visit with a trip to the Ferenc Puskas Football Academy, where the focus falls squarely on developing the players of tomorrow. It is an institution renowned for its quality and certainly left an impression on President Blatter, who commented: "I have to say 'hats off.' What I've just seen is remarkable; you can really feel proud." Those sentiments were backed up by Erzsébet Puskás, the widow of the legendary Hungarian attacking midfielder after whom the academy is named. "I'm very grateful to this academy, which by involving itself in raising children day after day gives a meaning to my husband's legacy."
After that, it was time for the ceremony itself, during which the creation of the FIFA Puskas Award was announced. "It brings on intense emotions when I think of this man who was one the world's greatest players," said the FIFA President in the press conference that followed. "He was a player who marked history. I don't think there's ever been another player with the same personality, on or off the field. With this new award, we are not only paying homage to Ferenc Puskas, we're honouring the philosophy of the game."
The selection process for the winner of the FIFA Puskas Award will take place on FIFA.com at the end of November. The ten best goals of the year, as selected by the FIFA Football Committee, will be available to view online and users will then be able to make their choice.
I don't think there's ever been another player with the same personality, on or off the field. With this new award, we are not only paying homage to Ferenc Puskas, we're honouring the philosophy of the game.
Accompanying Mrs. Puskas and President Blatter on the platform, academy founder and former Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban also faced the media, along with vice-president of the European Parliament Pal Schmitt. They had a sizeable audience too, with some notable figures in attendance, including the President of the Hungary Football Association and various members of Puskas's celebrated Mighty Magyars side of the 1950s. The FIFA President was then handed an academy pennant and the keyring that Puskas himself gave to his team-mates after his final match for Real Madrid.
Before heading off to watch the UEFA Champions League encounter between Debrecen and Fiorentina, Mr. Blatter took advantage of the occasion to hail the recent performances of Hungary's U-20 side. "I saw their last few matches in Egypt during the FIFA U-20 World Cup," he said. "They won the bronze and finished up as the best team from Europe. There's plenty to be optimistic about and I'm sure that Hungary's golden era is going to return."
The final word naturally went to Mrs. Puskas: "I hope that the young players who win the FIFA Puskas Award in the future will appreciate this honour and that supporters the world over will be proud of them." No doubt they will, with the first ever recipient set to claim the prize at the FIFA World Player Gala 2009 on 21 December.