It's 50 years since the Magical Magyars of Hungary beat England 6-3 at Wembley, changing football forever.
Fifty years ago today England lost her unbeaten home record against continental opposition. The Magical Magyars of Hungary beat us 6-3 at Wembley in a match that was to have wide repercussions.
England, managed by Walter Winterbottom and captained by Billy Wright, lost the record to a team that played with brilliance, flair and zest. The home team were mesmerised as the Hungarians dazzled with their mastery of - ironically - the 'English Style'. Interchanging forwards, a mixing up of short and long passes, the same defensive tactics - but all performed with almost geometrical accuracy and the most elegant ball control.
Apart from all that they overcame the traditional continental weakness at finishing and shot four of their six goals from outside the penalty area.
The match between the reigning Olympic champions and football's mother country had been billed as the 'Match of the Century' and England certainly didn't lack self-confidence at the start. Billy Wright said afterwards: "When we walked out at Wembley that afternoon, side by side with the visiting team, I looked down and noticed that the Hungarians had on these strange, lightweight boots, cut away like slippers under the ankle bone. I turned to big Stan Mortensen and said 'We should be alright here, Stan, they haven't got the proper kit'".
Hungary showed how wrong it had been to underestimate them by taking the lead inside the first minute, Hidegkuti sending in a devastating shot after selling a dummy to Harry Johnston. England drew level through Jackie Sewell but three more Hungarian goals followed in quick succession, another from Hidegkuti and two from the legendary Puskas.
Puskas' first remains a Wembley classic. It was a goal that defined his generation. Czibor found his captain at the far post and he shaped to check back, causing Wright to desperately hurl himself across goal.
Puskas described it thus: "He was expecting me to turn inside. If I had done, he would have taken me and the ball off the pitch and into the stands. So I dragged the ball back with the studs of my left boot and whacked it high into the net".
Mortensen pulled a goal back but shell-shocked England were 2-4 down at the break. Boszik and Hidegkuti, the latter completing his hat-trick, scored to dash any English hopes of a comeback in the second half. Alf Ramsey converted a penalty to make the final score 3-6 but a new page in the history of football had already been turned.
There were bound to be repercussions after such a comprehensive defeat. It was suggested that the country which had organised the game for the world did not understand its finer points. There were daily demands for 'something to be done' and more than one journalist asked 'Do we really need a panel of nine to pick a team of eleven?'
English football seemed to accept at last that it had something to learn. After returning home from the 1954 World Cup, in which England had reached the quarter-finals, Winterbottom demanded more time with his England players and a format for building a team, instead of simply having 11 men selected for him on a loose match-by-match basis.
The FA's technical sub-committee's forceful conclusion was that "a great deal more can be done towards bringing England players and teams to a high standard of performance in the next four years". But it was 12 years before we could claim to be the best in the world.
England: Gil Merrick, Alf Ramsey, Bill Eckersley, Billy Wright, Harry Johnston, Jimmy Dickinson, Stanley Matthews, Ernie Taylor, Stan Mortensen, Jackie Sewell, George Robb
Hungary: Gyula Grosics (Sandor Gellar, 80), Jeno Buzanszky, Mihalay Lantos, Jozsef Bozsik, Gyula Lorant, Jozsef Zakarias, Laszlo Budai, Sandor Kocsis, Nandor Hidegkuti, Ferenc Puskas, Zoltan Czibor
Referee: Leo Horn (Holland)