July 15 - August 02
Olympic Football Tournament Helsinki 1952
This tournament saw the birth of one of the greatest football teams: Hungary, who were soon to become known as the Magic Magyars, led by the fabulous Galloping Major, Ferenc Puskas. And magic did the Hungarians perform, rolling to five consecutive wins, scoring 20 goals and allowing just two.
The 2-0 gold-medal game win over Yugoslavia might have been anti-climatic, considering the events leading up to the final.
Outsiders Luxembourg, who had never known much success in international football, eliminated Great Britain in the opening round, 5-3, and Egypt stunned Chile, 5-4.
In fact, Yugoslavia almost did not make it to the championship match in a second-round confrontation that turned into one of the most memorable games ever of the Olympic Football Tournament. Yugoslavia led the Soviet Union, 5-1, at one juncture in their match in Tampere before the Soviets rallied from a 5-2 deficit with 14 minutes left to force an amazing 5-5 tie. Bobrov led the comeback with three goals and Petrov headed home the equalizer with a minute remaining in normal time. Two days later, Yugoslavia won the rematch, 3-1, as Rajko Mitic, who finished one behind teammate Branko Zebec for the scoring title, Stjepan Bobek and Zlatko Cajkovski tallied.
But it was Hungary's tournament. After barely getting past Romania in the first round, 2-1, the Hungarians moved into high gear. They blanked Italy in the second round, 3-0, rolled over Turkey in the quarter-finals, 7-1 (Kocsis and Puskas had two goals apiece), and shut down Sweden in the semi-finals, 6-0 (two more goals for Kocsis).
Ferenc Puskas and Zoltan Czibor both scored as Hungary produced a 2-0 final win as nearly 60,000 spectators were entertained by one of the greatest football teams in history.
This Hungarian side was virtually the same as that which was to stun England at Wembley, 6-3 in 1953, and the same team that would enter the 1954 World Cup as the favourites before succumbing to West Germany in the final, 3-2. Sweden, without its brilliant attacking trio that had produced a gold medal in 1948, settled for a bronze medal this time, with a 2-0 win over Germany FR.