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The story of the vibrant and revolutionary soccer culture in Hungary that, on the eve of World War II, redefined the modern game and launched a new era.
In the early 1950s, the Hungarian side was unbeatable, winning the Olympic gold and thrashing England in the Match of the Century. Their legendary forward, Ferenc Puskás, was one of the game’s first international superstars. But as Jonathan Wilson reveals in The Names Heard Long Ago, this celebrated era was in fact the final act of the true golden age of Hungarian soccer.
In Budapest in the 1920s and 1930s, a new school of soccer emerged that became one of the most influential in the game’s history, shaped by brilliant players and coaches who brought mathematical rigor and imagination to the style of play. But with the onset of World War II, many were forced into exile, fleeing anti-Semitism and the rise of fascism.
Yet their legacy endured. Against the backdrop of economic and political turmoil between the wars, and in spite of extraordinary odds, Hungary taught the world to play.
If this book were a high school course, it would be an Advanced Placement course. That said, it is a good holiday or birthday gift for the big soccer fan in your life, and a great addition to the growing library of good soccer reads available commercially.
This is a truly brilliant book, easily the best we’ve encountered in 2019. Wilson and Bold Type Books should be very proud of what has been created. It is a text that will be discussed and referred to for many years to come.
Jonathan Wilson is the author of eight books, including Inverting the Pyramid, which was named NSC Football Book of the Year in 2009 and won the Premio Antonio Ghirelli prize as Italian soccer book of the year in 2013. His books Behind the Curtain: Travels in Eastern European Football; The Anatomy of England; and The Outsider: A History of the Goalkeeper were shortlisted for the NSC award in 2007, 2011, and 2013. Wilson is the founder and editor of the soccer quarterly the Blizzard, writes for the Guardian, FoxSoccer, and Sports Illustrated, and is a columnist for World Soccer. He was voted Football Writer of the Year by the Football Supporters Federation in 2012.