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So Long, FIFA Mobile [Other]
After playing FIFA Mobile since about 2017 (certainly since the first season), and previous versions of FIFA (14, 15 and 16), I have today deleted FIFA Mobile from my iPad Mini. I've also removed it from my phone. (I never played it on my phone, but just had it there as a backup option.) Plus I've unfollowed EA's FIFA Mobile account on Twitter, because I no longer want updates about the game. I'll probably unsubscribe from this subreddit as well within the next day or two.
So how did I reach this point? Well it's not a "rage quit". It's not because I lost ten VSA matches in a row (actually, I won my last eight on the trot, which was a nice way to finish) or because I can't get past the Petit game in Zidane Chapter 2 (I really can't beat those wretched Brazilians, but that is still NOT my reason for leaving). Truth be told, my desire to leave FIFA Mobile has been building for quite some time now. The game has become less and less enjoyable for me by the day, feeling more like a dreary chore than something fun to play, and I have been increasingly unhappy with the amount of time I have been spending on it. The final straw came with the La Liga Rivals promo, and the way it made you play so many full matches and half matches a day - not only for LLR points, but Snowflakes too. Even though I used Auto Pass and Shoot for those matches, I was still spending far too long in the game as a result of that ghastly promo. And the thing is, I play Madden Mobile as well. Like FM, MM can be extremely time-consuming. Between the two games, things had got well beyond a joke. So one of them had to go, especially with a new year and new decade about to dawn. And for me, the decision was easy. The EA game to be culled from my life was to be FIFA Mobile.
Here are some reasons why I chose to delete FIFA Mobile, but (for now anyway) to stick with Madden Mobile:
- Madden Mobile lets you rewrite history. If you mess up in a live event or turn the ball over in a full game, you can "change the course of history" by force-closing and restarting the app. (Just make sure you do it before the play is deemed completed, otherwise it will be too late.) Then the disaster will be cancelled out and you get another shot. This saves considerably on stamina and aggravation (although it can still get frustrating if you have to force-close a lot in a very difficult event). FIFA Mobile does not do that (although to be fair, it's probably harder to do with soccer, whereas American football is way more stop-start). If you force-close anything in FM, you just forfeit the whole thing.
- Auto-play. EA have recently rolled out an "Auto-Play" feature in Madden Mobile. This is NOT the same as "Auto Pass and Shoot" in FM (which many people often call "auto-playing"). Rather, after you play an event once, you can auto-play it for the same amount of stamina it would cost you to play it in full. So rather than repeatedly grind an event, you can just play it once and then "auto-play" it in a few seconds (although opening the packs afterwards still takes forever). It's a considerable time-saver. However, people who actually want to grind an event repeatedly can still do so. If FM let you auto-play events (like the New Year skill games last week or the new TOTY skill game), I might have been a little more inclined to stick around.
- I run a league (top 400 one at that) in Madden Mobile. I don't run one in FIFA Mobile (although I used to - in fact, it's almost two years to the day since I created Game of Throw-Ins, which merged with OME Outsiders last year). So I'd feel more like I was leaving my leaguemates in the lurch if I quit Madden Mobile. In FIFA Mobile, I had scaled back my league involvement over the past few months, although I always played my turns every day. And I do want to stress that my league is absolutely NOT a reason for my leaving. In fact, if anyone is looking for a league, I'm more than happy to recommend it. But yeah, that was just one more factor that made it easier to quit FIFA Mobile rather than Madden Mobile.
- Overdrive is less aggravating than VSA. Ever since VSA was introduced, I have absolutely hated it. Playing it always puts me in a bad mood. In fact, for my last FIFA Mobile session before deleting it today, I decided not to play any VSA. I wasn't going to let it spoil my very last time in FM. One of the most pleasing things about deleting FM is that I'll never have to play another VSA match again. YES!!! Overdrive is Madden Mobile's equivalent of VSA. It's a pretty horrible game mode, but at least it requires a little tactical nous, and I have minimised the aggravation factor by only playing it enough for a daily goal (although that's pretty much what I was doing with VSA in the end). I can at least say I reached FIFA Champions in VSA this season. FIFA Masters however was a bridge too far. Maybe if I'd seen the rest of the season out, I might have eventually made it to FIFA Masters (and beaten that abominable Petit game too), but as it is, I'm so happy I don't have to worry about any of that anymore.
- Madden Mobile is still fun - at least, to some extent. It's less fun for me than it used to be, but it's still somewhat fun. FIFA Mobile on the other hand had stopped being fun and I was really going through the motions with it. As I said above, that La Liga Rivals promo was the absolute last straw. That was the point where I said "Enough is enough - time to get this wretched game out of my life".
I was going to quit a few days ago when I left my league (having already notified them a few days beforehand that I was leaving the game). But then I thought I might as well see out the Football Freeze and UEFA promos. With those promos ending today and the Team of the Year one starting, today just felt like the right day to go. The TOTY promo doesn't look nearly as time-consuming as the LLR one was, but it would still take up quite a lot of time every day. And that is time I don't want to have to spend anymore.
Speaking of spending, I did spend a bit of money on the game - not a massive amount though. I wasn't F2P, but nor was I a whale by any means. This season though, I did buy the extra Star Pass each month. That renews in a couple of days, and is an expense I really didn't want to continue with. So again, that just made today a good one to leave. And with it being pretty much the anniversary of Game of Throw-Ins (even if that no longer exists as an individual entity), it seemed apropos to pull out today on that basis as well. I like having neat and tidy closure, and this was about as good as I could get on that score. Before deleting the app for good, I played one last game, which I won 10-0. So that was a nice way to finish up as well. Sort of felt like a farewell exhibition match.
Although I reached a tipping point as explained above, my decision to leave has not been an emotional one triggered by frustration with VSA or a specific game or live event. I had been contemplating it for a while, but finally reached the point fairly recently where I decided to call it a day. Already I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I felt more happy than sad when I removed the game. It's the right thing for me, right now. And I'm pretty sure I won't be back. EA would have to alter the game quite considerably and make it way less time-consuming and grindy for me to contemplate taking it up again. But I suspect it will get worse before it gets better.
I'm not going to directly encourage anyone else to quit the game - this is a personal decision I have come to for my own benefit, not a "boycott EA" thing. However, if, like me, you are giving leaving some thought, I would encourage you to consider whether you are still enjoying the game and if not, what is keeping you playing it? Also, consider how much time it's taking up each day and whether you could be using that time to do more worthwhile things with your life. However, if you're still enjoying the game and are managing to achieve a better balance in terms of time spent playing it than I did, then carry on your merry way and more power to you.
My favourite memory of FIFA Mobile is building an all-Icon team (144 OVR, I think it was in the end) in Season Two. Least favourite memory: pretty much every VSA match. Also, trying and failing to beat 115 OVR Liverpool last season. I made more than 100 attempts and never managed better than a draw. What a dreadful waste of time and my life generally that was. I only made 15-20 attempts at the Petit match - that was more than enough.
My Game of Throw-Ins friends used to rib me about my "essays" in our old Discord server. So if any of them are reading this post, consider this as one more essay for the road, guys!
I believe Martin Luther King Jr. closed his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech with the words, "Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, I'm free at last!". That pretty much sums up how I feel about deleting FIFA Mobile today. It is, quite simply, liberating. In fact, it almost feels like getting out of a toxic relationship. I've experienced one or two of those and would never want to go back to them. And that's why, unless FM undergoes a massive overhaul that brings back some fun and cuts way down on the time you have to spend to get anywhere, I am very unlikely to return to the game after today. Never say never, I guess, but after three years of playing it way too much, I've done my dash with FIFA Mobile. FINIS
Barça Legends Thread: Sándor Kocsis & Zoltán Czibor
Being overshadowed by Puskás in the national team and Kubala at Barça, unfortunately the names Zoltán Czibor and Sándor Kocsis are rarely spoken these days, but during their careers they were widely recognized as one of the greatest players of all time. Forming the legendary attack that hypnotized fans in the newly built Camp Nou, they helped establish Barça as a true powerhouse of European football.
Early life and football during the warZoltán Suhai Czibor was born on August 23rd 1929 in Kaposvár, Hungary. Some time after his birth, his family moved to Komárom. He started playing football with his two older brothers and soon they joined the local club as amateur players. He debuted as a 12 year old. It was the middle of World War II , so living off football alone was impossible. To survive as a teenager Czibor was forced to do hard labor in factories and worked as a train engine driver..
Sándor Péter Kocsis was born on September 21st 1929 in Budapest. Living in the capital may have saved him from famine and hard labor, but it brought him closer to war as 38 000 citizens died during the liberation of Budapest and the city was destroyed by allied bombings. He only started playing football at a club after the war when he signed for Kőbányai TC.
Ferencváros and forming the Honvéd teamAfter just a year at Kőbányai, Kocsis was noticed by Ferencváros, the biggest club in Hungary. He signed for them in 1946 at the age of just 16. During his first season he met a fellow young player from Budapest - Kubala. Even though Kubala left for Czechoslovakia after just one season, the Ferencváros squad was improving every year. Kocsis was very young and didn’t get too many chances in his first few seasons, but he grew as a player while training with Ferenc Deák, who was one of the best players in the world at the time and is to this day the eight greatest goalscorer in history. Czibor finally moved to Budapest in 1948 and the great team was formed. Ferencváros won the league with mind blowing 140 goals scored in just 30 matches. However, the squad that looked ready to dominate for years was about to be destroyed.
In 1949 Hungary officially became a communist country which forced many players like Kubala to leave. It also meant that the club system was about to be changed. Hungarian party leaders made a genius, but vicious plan that would potentially ruin club football in order to create a great national team. And it worked.
The plan was devised by Gusztáv Sebes who became the national team coach in 1949. As a player during the 30s, he admired the great national sides of Austria and Italy who based their strength on having almost the entire squad from one or two clubs. Austrians formed their team around Vienna clubs Austria and Rapid, while the Italians used a Juventus based squad. He also adopted the idea of total football from Jimmy Hogan, an Englishman who coached MTK Budapest and Austria Wien during the 20s. The rise of communism gave Sebes, who ran the workers union, the power he needed to turn his vision into reality, as he was named deputy minister of sport. Initially two clubs were chosen for his project. Honvéd was given to the army, while MTK was given to the ministry of internal affairs. MTK was later discarded as they were known to be a right wing club, but they got to keep and develop their squad. That left Honvéd as the only appropriate club to be the base for a great national team.
The plan was simple, but very effective. As the army club, Honvéd had rights to any player that served the military at that time. The club already had quite a foundation with Ferenc Puskás and József Bozsik and were previously coached by Béla Guttman who fled the country in 1949. Now able to basically take any player they liked for free, Honvéd was becoming a team to be feared. Kocsis and Budai joined from Ferencváros, Lóránt joined from Vasas and Grosics was recruited after he was caught trying to defect. Czibor was one of the players who tried to avoid serving the military. He faked being a student at the university and cleverly signed for Csepel which was a workers club and as such didn’t get harassed by the army. After years of waiting, Sebes insisted and finally in 1953 Czibor was conscripted into the army and thus Honvéd.
Naturally the squad made from the best players Hungary could offer dominated the league winning 5 titles in 6 years. Sebes and the MTK coach Márton Bukovi developed and perfected the new revolutionary 4-2-4 formation, that would help the team attack and defend as a cohesive unit, rather than the rigid old 2-3-5 formation also known as WM formation. This formation utilized the fact that Hungarians had great strikers who could be more than the traditional striker whose only duty was to score the goal from close range. Both Kocsis and Puskás were great with the ball at their feet and could pass quickly and accurately which allowed them to surprise and outplay the opposition who didn’t know how to deal with them. With Czibor on the left and Budai on the right, both being able and often playing on the opposite side, the attack was deadly. Traditional fifth attacker was now moved to the midfield to function as a box to box player that initiated and usually finished the attack. That position was played by Péter Palotás or Nándor Hidegkuti. Even Grosics as the goalkeeper had more freedom in his play and inspired keepers like Yashin who later revolutionized the role.
With the fast paced attacking football which further evolved the idea that is known today as total football, the Honvéd side was basically used as a training ground for the national team. It allowed Kocsis and Czibor to flourish because it fully utilized all their qualities. Kocsis scored 153 goals in 145 games for Honvéd, while Czibor managed 58 goals in 80 games.
Honvéd became popular around Europe thanks to the Hungarian national side. Every big club wanted to play friendlies with a team from behind the iron curtain. That showed that football could connect people regardless of politics and lead to the creation of European club competitions. The basis for this was a friendly match between Honvéd and Wolverhampton, the reigning English champions, after the tragic World Cup of 1954. The game was played on December 13th in England. Early goal from Kocsis wasn’t enough as Wolves came back from 0:2 to win 3:2 just like the Germans did a few months earlier. Wolves manager Stan Cullis proclaimed his team “the best in Europe” as they had defeated “the greatest team in history”. Journalists across Europe disagreed, claiming that Real Madrid, Barcelona, Stade Reims or AC Milan are superior to the English side and attributing their victory to extremely poor pitch conditions which made it hard for the Hungarians to play their quick passing football. They were asking for a competition to see which club truly is the best. Next season the first European Cup was played.
The Mighty MagyarsIt’s ridiculous to talk about any Hungarian player from the 50s without talking about their national team.
Creating a phenomenonWith all the success Honvéd had, in the end they were basically a glorified training facility since 1949. The communist party didn’t decide to focus on football as the main national sport randomly however. Hungary were already an extremely strong team ever since the 30s and played the World Cup final in 1938, losing 4:2 to Italy. Many people today think that if not for World War II, they would’ve won the 1942 World Cup.
Strangely Hungary refused to compete in the 1950 World Cup which was held in Brazil. Their first big competition came in 1952 with the Olympics in Helsinki. Back then the Olympics were almost as prestigious as the World Cup so the teams competing were the best in the world. Hungary absolutely stomped the competition with a goal difference of 20-2. The final against Yugoslavia was won in last minutes with goals from Puskás and Czibor. Kocsis finished the competition as the second best scorer with 6 goals, behind Yugoslavia’s Branko Zebec. One of the FIFA officials at the competition was Stanley Rose of the English Football Association. The English thought themselves to be the best team in the world at that time so he invited Hungary to play a friendly game against England.
In 1953 they won the Central European International Cup which was the predecessor to the European Championship that we have today. The friendly against England was finally arranged, the date was November 25th 1953. England who had a habit of picking the best player in each position to form the national team were shown what it truly meant to have team chemistry. Hungarians blitzed the English side, leading 4:2 at half time while still missing a ton of chances. The game ended in a 6:3 victory and a hat trick from Hidegkuti. This game broke the delusion the English media had and showed them how modern national sides should play. It was dubbed “Match of the century”. Some of the English were not convinced however, stating that it was just a bad day for their team. The rematch that was played in Budapest just one month before the 1954 World Cup was sure to change the minds of even the most stubborn England supporters as the Magyars massacred them 7:1 with braces from Kocsis and Puskás. Alf Ramsey who played for the losing English side later adopted Sebes’s philosophy and formed his World Cup winning team around West Ham United players.
The 1954 World CupHungary arrived as clear favorites, having been undefeated for four years and having the strongest team and individual players. They were drawn into group B with West Germany, South Korea and Turkey. The system was a bit different than it is today, after two games the best two teams from each group would advance, if there needed to be a tie breaker it was played afterwards. Hungary smashed South Korea 9:0 with a hat trick from Kocsis and a goal from Czibor, while Germany smashed Turkey. Turkey then beat South Korea. Knowing that his team will easily beat Turkey in the tie breaker, German coach Sepp Herberger cleverly decided to rotate his squad against the Hungarians and instructed his players to play rough with dirty tackles on their key players knowing that even with suspensions those were his bench players. The plan worked and Puskás suffered a fractured ankle, while other players suffered minor injuries. The cost was the biggest humiliation in German football history as they lost 8:3 with four goals from Kocsis.
Bad luck continued as Hungary were drawn against Brazil in the quarter finals, Brazil being considered the only team good enough to challenge them. Everyone expected this to be the best game in history of football, but it ended up being one of the dirtiest and was later named “Battle of the Bern”. Hungary was left without its captain and best player, but the game started well for them as they were leading 2:0 after just 7 minutes with a goal and assist from Kocsis. Two penalties were awarded, one for each team. After the penalty for Hungary, Brazilian fans invaded the pitch and attacked the referees, so police had to intervene. The game was played under heavy rain and the two teams were fouling each other constantly. Bozsik and Nilton Santos got into a fight so they were both sent off. Brazil scored, but their hopes were killed again by Kocsis who set the final score 4:2 with an absolute banger from outside the box. After the game ended fans got into a massive fight and Brazilian players later invaded Hungary’s dressing room to continue the fist fight. Players were bruised and Sebes got hit in the head with a bottle. The game ended with 42 fouls, 4 cautions and 3 dismissals. Referee Arthur Ellis noted: “I was so happy when I got that game, I thought it will be the greatest football spectacle of all time, the greatest moment of my career. But they behaved like animals, it was a disgrace for the sport. With today’s rules the game would’ve been stopped because every player would’ve been sent off”.
With even more injuries and exhausted, the Hungarian team was struck with poor luck yet again as their semi final opponents were the reigning world champions Uruguay. The game, as every other in the competition, started really well for them. Czibor opened up the score with a weak but very precise volley into corner of the net. Hidegkuti added a header to make it 2:0. Fatigue was showing as the game was nearing its end and Uruguay came back in last few minutes with two counter attacks. Believing that they truly cannot be beaten at a World Cup, the Uruguayans rushed to attack as the extra time started. Kocsis was quick to kill their enthusiasm with two of his trademark headers to win the game. They won but at a high cost since they were exhausted from fighting the tough South American teams. Some said that Kocsis had to be carried out of the stadium since he was so tired he couldn’t walk. The big final was just three days away.
Everyone was prepared for the final game. Named “The miracle of Bern” by the Germans, it was the disaster of Bern for the Hungarians. Problems were already present before the game started. The tired team had trouble getting sleep due to a village fair in front of their hotel. The weather was terrible with heavy rain slowing down and ruining Hungary’s quick passing game, especially since they didn’t have modern boots for different weather like Germans had with Adidas. Puskás started, but was barely ready to play football which was risky considering that substitutions weren’t a thing yet. Problems weren’t noticeable when Hungary took the quick 2:0 lead with goals from Puskás who slotted in a deflected Kocsis long shot and Czibor who used his blistering speed to cut the backpass to the German keeper and slotted the ball in the empty net. But the German spirit that we know today was born on that very day, just 10 minutes later the score was leveled. Second half was nearing its end when Helmut Rahn scored the winner in the 84. minute. Hungary dominated most of the game and had numerous chances, they hit the woodwork 3 times and had 2 shots cleared off the goal line. They had 16 shots on goal in total, but all in vain. They didn’t lose fairly though as the final was one of the most controversial games in football history. There were three major refereeing mistakes. The second German goal was scored after a clear foul on Grosics who dropped the ball after a corner kick, which Rahn slotted into the empty net. At the very end of the second half Kocsis got hacked from behind in the box, but the ref said no penalty. Puskás scored a legitimate goal in the last second of the game, but the offside was called. Referee was from England, who Hungarians humiliated just a month earlier. Lastly, perhaps the biggest controversy came after the game as there were reports that the German team was given nazi performance-enhancing drugs which they were told were vitamin C injections. Studies done 50 years later confirmed the story was likely true based on the symptoms that German players had in months after the game.
In the end that game marked the start of the great German national side that is to this day the most consistent in the world, while Hungary never again came even close to achieving glory.
Post World Cup period and “starting” the revolutionHungarian loss wasn’t received well by the public nor the communist party. The people who were oppressed for years finally snapped after the tragic loss and came out in thousands to protest against the communist party. Party needed to blame someone, as losing to West Germany who were enemies of the highest order was seen as a disgrace. But the team never gave them a chance to punish them. They continued to win games over the next two years. Their last big game came when the hostility between USSR and Hungary was at its peak and exactly those two teams met in Moscow in September of 1956. USSR had never lost a game on home soil before, but they have also never met the team this strong. It was a tough match dominated by Hungary, but the score in the end was just 1:0, courtesy of Czibor’s shot with the outside of his foot which blasted past Lev Yashin. There are stories that Czibor shouted: “We can defeat communism!” after his goal. The game itself, combined with the waterpolo game between the two sides at the 1956 Olympics, did little good to calm down the anti-Soviet riots in Budapest that were going on. One month after the game all hell broke loose.
Legacy and world recordsIn the end the Magyars lost only one game in 7 years, unfortunately for them the most important one. But not winning the World Cup never truly tarnished their legacy. They are regarded to this day as one of the best teams of all time and they indeed are the best ranked team in history by today’s FIFA elo ranking. They hold an incredible amount of records, both individual and team, that remain to this day.
They are the first team to beat England, Scotland and USSR on their home soil. They are the first team in history to defeat Uruguay at a World Cup. They gave the hardest ever defeats to Germany, England, Romania, South Korea and numerous other teams. They have ridiculous stat of 42 victories, 7 draws and 1 defeat in 50 games, with Sebes having the greatest win ratio out of any national team coach in history. Also they scored in 73 consecutive games and were undefeated for 4 years. They hold the record for most goals scored by a single team in a world cup with 27 goals in just 5 games.
But more important than all the records is the way they changed football. They broke the WM formation that was used for 60 odd years. Their approach to tactics, physical preparation and team selection was later used by every single national team and club. The idea of total football that somewhat began with English coaches in the early 20s and the Austrian wunderteam was finally presented to the world in its full glory and was later adopted by Rinus Michels who himself said that he was greatly influenced by the “best team ever”. Michels and Cruijff went on to implement total football into clubs and build the entire club philosophy around it, forever changing Ajax, Barça and others as the style evolved to what we can still see today.
European Cup that changed everythingWith them greatly influencing the creation of the first European Cup in 1955, Honvéd refused to participate as the Hungarian champions, deeming the competition unimportant. Indeed at the time nobody could have known that the European Cup would evolve and become the Champions League that we have today, but even after the first season it was evident that international club competitions had quite an audience. Honvéd won the Hungarian league again and this time they decided to participate. In the round of 16 they were drawn against Spanish champions Athletic Bilbao. It was late 1956 when the team traveled across the continent to play their first ever European Cup game. It ended in a 3:2 loss. As they were preparing to return to Budapest, they got the news that an all out war erupted back home. Known as the Hungarian revolution of 1956, the Soviet army invaded Hungary and thousands of people died. Honvéd players were left shocked, but were thankfully already out of the country. They arranged for the away leg to be played in Brussels, but it ended very poorly for them as the Honvéd keeper got injured during the opening minutes and Czibor had to step in as a keeper. They managed a 3:3 draw which saw them eliminated from the competition.
As the revolution was over, Honvéd players had the option to come back home, but the majority of them refused to, fearing for their and their families’ future, as well as their footballing careers. They started a world tour to collect money so that they could survive. That didn’t go well with the Hungarian Football Association who filed a report to FIFA and asked for them to get banned, which FIFA shockingly accepted. Banned from playing professional football, the players started an illegal tour around South Europe and later South America. Many of them tried playing for different minor clubs to support themselves.
Legendary Hungarian player, now coach, György Sárosi was managing Roma at the time and he needed a winger so he invited Czibor to join the Italian side. Just as he received the money from his contract the Italian federation banned further signings of foreign players, which meant that Czibor had to pay back all the money. He was now in debt, without a club and desperate. Next season he joined Kocsis at a minor Swiss team Young Fellows from Zürich where they spent one season. The two players were likely close friends as they were seen next to each other in most team pictures even before and especially after they defected.
Finding a new home in BarcelonaFate finally lead the two Hungarian stars to Barcelona in 1958. The club was looking for reinforcements to challenge the now dominating Real Madrid team that had already won 3 European Cups in a row, as well as other strong Spanish teams. The 50s saw Barça grow as a club to the point where they almost doubled their fanbase, thanks mainly to the huge success in early 50s. The “Barça of the five cups” squad lead by Kubala brought the club to new heights. Now the Les Corts was too small even with its 60 000 seats. Camp Nou was opened in 1957 and the incomes kept rising, but the club went into debt to pay for the construction of the largest stadium in Europe. Barça was hungry for European glory and the sporting directochief scout Josep Samitier was looking to sign world class players for as little money as possible. Samitier often abused his good relationship with Franco and his government to arrange transfers of foreign players which were very hard and tedious procedures at the time, only reserved for Franco’s favorites like Real or Atletico.
Kubala who himself never found glory in Hungarian national team, wanted to help his struggling brothers, but also knew that they possess the quality that could help Barça reach the top. Puskás was snatched by Real Madrid, but Kubala managed to convince Kocsis and Czibor whose debts he paid. They cost 100 000 dollars each and in 1958 the Camp Nou crowd had the pleasure of watching not one, but three Hungarian magicians on the pitch, as Kocsis and Czibor signed 3 year contracts with the club.
Even though they never really played outside of Hungary, the two newcomers adapted immediately, as was expected from such household names at the time. Luis Suárez said half a century later: “Most of us were usually weary of foreign players, especially from Eastern Europe, but they were really nice people, very calm and shy. Wonderful friends and teammates, not to mention their quality as players. Today they talk about Kubala or me, but back then they were the football stars, we were just Barça stars.”
Both Kocsis and Czibor scored on their debuts for Barça, Kocsis in a 4:1 victory against Betis and Czibor in a 6:0 trashing of Valencia. In 1958 Barça’s attacking five was widely regarded as the greatest in the world, even ahead of Real Madrid’s. Kubala, Kocsis and Czibor, together with Suárez were regulars, while the final position was challenged for by Villaverde, Eulogio Martínez and Evaristo. Czibor added the long needed width to the attack, while Kocsis was another source of consistent goals since Kubala was getting older. A major part of the success was Helenio Herrera who also came in 1958. Although he is regarded today as the inventor of catenaccio, the most utterly defensive style of football, Herrera’s Barça played relatively attacking football, relying on their front 5 to generate goals and entertain the fans, while the popular “HH” tried to fix Barça’s leaky defense.
Slaying the monster and the curse of BernBarça dominated the league in 1958/59 season with convincing beautiful football. They destroyed Valencia on the first matchday. Real Madrid was beaten 4:0 at the Camp Nou with a hat trick from Evaristo and a red card for Czibor who got into a fight with Madrid’s José Santamaría, whom he already fought with in World Cup semifinal. Barça also won Copa del Generalísimo that season to seal the double. The final was played against Granada side coached by ex-Honvéd coach Jenő Kalmár. Barça won 4:1 with two headers from Kocsis.
At the time the European Cup had some prestige, but so did the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. The competition was originally based around players from different cities combining themselves into a team. The reality was, however, that most cities just used the strongest club to represent them, regardless of where the players were from. Soon it turned into a club competition. Competitions were played over the periods of two years and Barça won the first two editions in 1958 and 1960. The final of 1960 was played against Birmingham City. First leg in England ended in a 0:0 draw on a muddy pitch under heavy rain. Barça players were also tired, having played Sevilla just three days earlier. Kocsis and Eulogio spearheaded the attack as Suárez, Kubala and Czibor were left out. Return leg was played a couple months later. Barça team was now in shambles and without a manager after their European exit so Birmingham hoped to surprise them. Barça won that game 4:1, with a brace from Czibor who was now well rested. He scored Barça’s second and third goal in his usual manner with a nice shot from the left wing.
Apart from the Fairs Cup, Barça as the champions of Spain participated in the 1959/60 European Cup and were considered one of the favorites. They started strong absolutely smashing CSKA Sofia 8:4, Milan 7:1 and Wolverhampton 9:2 with Kubala scoring hattricks against CSKA and Milan and Kocsis adding one against Wolves. The opponent in the semi final was very well known and very scary indeed. The very first European clasico was about to take place. Unfortunately for Barça, Kubala had a major falling out with Herrera some time between the two Wolves games and was permanently benched by the Argentinian. Fans were mad and blamed it on Suárez who started underperforming. Additionally Kocsis and Czibor struggled as a result since they both worked best with service from more creative players. The team that looked unstoppable got absolutely run over by Real Madrid, losing 3:1 both times. Puskás scored three while Kocsis managed one goal. Herrera was sacked the day after.
Despite being without a coach, Barça had enough of a lead in La Liga to win it again. The club surprisingly hired a Serbian coach Ljubiša Broćić in the summer, despite him not working in Spain before. He struggled in La Liga, mostly in away games. When Barça drew Real Madrid in the round of 16, most culés were praying to at least lose with some dignity this time. But, as they say, you never know in football. Broćić’s team became the first in history to knock Real Madrid out of a European competition as they won 4:3 on aggregate with Luis Suárez being the absolute man of the match which later that year earned him the Ballon d’Or ahead of Puskás.
Broćić was sacked in January however as Barça kept falling down the table in La Liga. Interim coach Enrique Orizaola took over. Barça easily passed the Czech champions Spartak Hradec Králové, but struggled in the semi final against Hamburg. After winning 1:0 at the Camp Nou, Barça found themselves 2:0 down against Uwe Seeler lead Hamburg squad. But in the last attack of the game Kocsis scored yet another legendary header to force a play-off game which Barça won 1:0 and reached their first ever European Cup final.
The location of the final game was sure to send chills down the spine of any Hungarian, as it was being played in Bern. Problems begun even before the game as Luis Suárez announced that he was leaving for Inter, probably due to his year long fight with the fans. The opponents Benfica were hardly the favorites, especially since their best ever player Eusebio only came to the club a few months later. Their biggest strength was their genius coach Béla Guttman, another Hungarian. The game started well for Barça as Kocsis scored a header from a Suárez cross. History seemed to repeat itself unfortunately. Benfica scored a goal 10 minutes later and immediately a second one after Ramallets dropped the ball on the goal line. The goal was given. After a Benfica cross in the second half the ball was cleared directly to their striker Coluna who was waiting outside the box because his nose was broken. He smashed a volley past Ramallets and sealed the game. Barça dominated most of the time, they hit the woodwork five times including a shot from Kubala which hit the left and then the right post, but the referee said no goal, even though in a similar situation earlier he gave Benfica the goal. Another Kocsis strike was cleared off the line. Czibor managed to score an absolute banger with 15 minutes to go, but Barça were unable to make a comeback.
For Hungarians the Wankdorf stadium seemed cursed, especially since the three German goals were very similar to Benfica’s goals. For Barça this season seemed like a start of a good period on paper, but in reality it was the last chance of an aging generation. Barça would have to wait 14 years before they even participated in another European Cup, 25 years before they played another final and 31 year until they actually won it.
Inevitable retirement and later yearsAfter the final things were looking grim. The team had no coach, lost the Ballon d’Or winner and best player, changed the president after 8 years and lost their most influential figure in Josep Samitier. On top of that Kubala and Czibor left the club, heartbroken after their defeat. They both joined Español. Czibor left Español after one year and had short stints with Basel, Austria Wien and Primo Hamilton in Canada.
Meanwhile Kocsis decided to stick around as he loved the club and the city. With nearly all of his teammates gone, he had to carry Barça forward. Since there was little quality compared to previous seasons, Kocsis ironically played more than ever at the age of 33. Naturally the following few seasons were the most prolific for him as a goalscorer, but the club failed to win anything other than a Copa title. In 1962 Barça played in Fairs Cup final against Valencia, but got smashed 7:3 on aggregate with Kocsis scoring all three goals for Barça. In the Copa final against César’s Zaragoza in 1963 he scored a goal to help Barça win 3:1. Next year Barça played in Cup Winners’ Cup for the first time. Opponents were again Hamburg and after two games the score was even, again. Kocsis was left heartbroken in Switzerland for the last time in his career, as his two goals were not enough and Barça lost 3:2 in the play-off game in Lausanne. His contract ended in 1965 and he retired from football.
After his retirement Czibor moved back to Barcelona where he opened a restaurant called Blue Danube (Kék Duna). After the fall of USSR, he finally returned to Hungary in 1990. He moved back to his hometown Komárom with his wife, son and daughter. The local club made him their honorary president and founded a tournament that carries his name. He died from lung cancer on September 1st 1997.
Kocsis also opened a restaurant in Barcelona after he retired, called Golden Head (Tete d’Or). He began coaching at Barça as an assistant coach. From 1972 to 1974 he coached Hércules. Unfortunately his coaching career was cut short. In 1975 he got diagnosed with leukemia and was hospitalized, after which his leg was amputated. Few years later he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. He went to Budapest one last time in 1978. Exhausted from the illness and knowing that he has no chance to survive, he threw himself out the window of his room in Quirón hospital in Barcelona on July 22nd 1979. He was just 49 years old. In 2012 his family moved his remains from Barcelona and placed them in the Basilica of Budapest on his 83rd birthday. The ceremony was attended by his surviving teammates from Barça and Hungary as well as Sandro Rosell and Leo Messi.
LegacySándor Kocsis was second only to Puskás when it came to strikers of his generation. Strong, quick, smart, with soft touch, good dribble and a very precise shot Kocsis’s biggest strength however were undoubtedly his headers. Probably the greatest header of the ball in history of football, the Golden head as he was called, could and did score headers from any position. His unusually strong neck meant that he could provide such power that it often times surprised the opposing keeper. Combined with good and smart positioning, as well as a decent jump, it made him a force in the air. Even though he was a complete player, Kocsis usually played to his advantage which is why a large portion of his goals, more than 400, were headers. He formed great partnerships with Budai in the national team and Luis Suárez at Barça as they provided him with plenty of assists.
Another part of his game that was extraordinary was his clinical finishing. Kocsis was never as good of a player as Puskás or Kubala, but he was the most clinical striker in the world. To this day he holds the highest goal per game ratio in a World Cup with 2.2 goals per game and second highest for a national side with 1.1 goals per game. He was the first player to score two hattricks in a single World Cup. He scored 111 goals in 184 games for Barça, winning 2 La Ligas, 2 Copa del Generalísimos and 1 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. He was the top scorer in Hungary three times, in 1951, 1952 and 1954, two of those times he was also the top scorer in Europe, but the Golden Boot was not introduced yet. Off the pitch he was a quiet, shy man and an introvert, who always worked on himself and tried to improve constantly. He was soft spoken and well mannered, a true gentleman.
Zoltán Czibor was widely regarded as one of the greatest wingers to play the game at the time. What he lacked in height (being just 1.69m tall) , he made up for in sheer power with his blistering speed and cannon of a left foot. He could have played any position on the pitch, but he was mostly used as a left winger and more rarely a right winger. He wasn’t a fancy dribbler like most other wingers at that time, but his very high football IQ made up for it. His through balls and especially his runs behind the opposing defense caused havoc, but the most feared part was by far his shot, as most of his goals were scored from outside the box, whether with his preferred left foot or his right foot. He rarely settled down for just strong low shots, with most of his shots smashing right under the crossbar which made them near unsaveable. Another one of Czibor’s great attributes was his calmness under pressure. Czibor was the definition of a big game player, having scored in every final he ever played. He wore the blaugrana colors 84 times and scored 36 goals, while winning 2 La Ligas, 1 Copa del Generalísimo and 1 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. He was the top scorer in Hungary in 1955. As a person he was a humble family man, calm and very witty, but a vocal leader on the pitch.
Pictures, videos and squadsFerencváros team in 1948 and the Honvéd team in 1953 with Kocsis as their top goalscorer
Golden Team before the England game , their legendary starting XI and their lineup before the 1954 World Cup final
Kocsis and Czibor in their traditional Hungarian jersey
Czibor kicks the Brazilian keeper during the “Battle of the Bern”
Kocsis about shoots the ball against Uruguay
Czibor moments before he scored in 1954 World Cup final
Czibor passes the ball to Kocsis as Lev Yashin rushes out to intercept
Kocsis dribbling the Soviets in 1956
Kocsis’s heading abilities were unmatched since his earlier days all the way up to his time at Barça
Kocsis and Czibor after signing for Barça in 1958
Helenio Herrera’s Barça team
Kubala, Czibor and Kocsis were inseparable 1 2 3 4
Barça’s front five was world class and stacked at the time: Villaverde, Kubala, Czibor, Kocsis and Suárez , Villaverde, Kubala, Eulogio, Suárez, Czibor , Evaristo, Kocsis, Tejada, Kubala Czibor
Barça squad before the 1961 European Cup final against Benfica, Hungarian lads aren’t too happy to be back at this stadium
Barça squad before the 1963 Copa final against Zaragoza
Kocsis at his tribute game against Hamburg, 1968 and the poster for the game
Kubala, Ramallets, Gensana, Rodri, Segarra and Gràcia carry Kocsis's coffin to his grave at Montjuïc cemetery in Barcelona
Czibor returns to Hungary after 34 years of exile
Ramon Alfonseda , the president of Barça Players Association, is awarded with the Hungarian golden cross for honoring and preserving the memory of Hungarian Barça stars Kubala, Kocsis and Czibor. The event happened this June and was attended by families of all three players , the son of each player was presented with a special Barça jersey carrying his father’s name and they recreated the legendary picture
Final against Yugoslavia in Helsinki, 1952, highlights
All the goals from the 1954 World Cup
(un)Friendly game against USSR in 1956 that “started the revolution”
Amazing documentary on the Hungarian Golden Team
Winning the 1959 Copa del Generalísimo with a brace from Kocsis
First and Second leg of the final against Birmingham in which Czibor scored twice
Semi final against Hamburg in 1961 highlights
European Cup final against Benfica, 1961, highlights
European Cup final against Benfica, 1961, full game
1963 Copa del Generalísimo final highlights, Kocsis scored the second goal
The Golden Team squad in 1954
Barcelona squad under Herrera