The Hungary side of the 1950's is one of the greatest of all time, and possibly the greatest never to win a World Cup. They revolutionised football tactics, single-handedly forcing a change in formation usage for the first time in some 20 years.
They were regarded as the first total footballing side, since it was said that each player could play in any position if necessary.
They were involved in what is regarded as the greatest international game of all time, demolishing England 6-3—and changing English football forever—before inflicting England's worst ever defeat, 7-1, only a year later. In the 1954 World cup, they would defeat both Brazil and Uruguay, both finalists in the 1950 World Cup, and inflicting Uruguay's first ever World Cup defeat—having won the whole thing the previous two times they had entered.
Ferenc Puskas is the name usually associated with the Mighty Magyars, the talisman of the side who scored 84 goals in just 85 games in international play, and widely regarded as one of the greatest ever. However, even he was outdone by one man in that great Hungary side: Sandor Kocsis.
Kocsis would only come to prominence in 1948, after he had made his debut for the Hungary national side. He would win his first league title at Ferencvaros in 1949, before being conscripted into the army.
Around this time, a team named Kispesti AC would be taken over by the Hungary Ministry of Defence, after the country had become a communist state. Since Ferencvaros were considered right-wing, Kocsis would be made to join Kispesti, now renamed as Budapest Honved, as the Hungarian Army team.
Despite the ulterior motives behind these moves, the resulting team contained Kocsis, Ferenc Puskas, Jozef Bozsik and Zoltan Czibor amongst others—all key players in that great Hungary side. This is often regarded as a notable reason for the international success: the fact that so many key players trained, lived and played alongside each other on a consistent basis.
Kocsis would remain at Honved until 1956—when the Hungarian Revolution forced many players to leave for Europe—having won league titles in 1952, '54 and '55. He scored 153 goals in just 145 league games.
During this time, Hungary would go on to dominate world football, winning the gold medal at the 1952 Olympic games, and the 1953 Central European Championship. Kocsis quickly became a key player in the side for his goalscoring exploits, and he would showcase his talents on the biggest stage of them all.
In the 1954 World Cup, he scored a hat-trick in the opening game against Sweden, before scoring four against eventual champions Germany in an 8-3 win—becoming the first man to score two hat-tricks in a single World Cup.
He would finish as top goalscorer, taking home the Golden Boot with 11 goals, breaking Ademir's record of 10 goals set only four years earlier, and since beaten only by Just Fontaine four years later with 13 goals.
Sandor Kocsis would go on to score 75 goals in just 68 games for Hungary: this is the highest international goalscoring average of any player with more than 43 caps in history, averaging 1.103 goals a game. He is only one of two players in history to average more than 1 goal a game with so many caps (the other being Gerd Muller), and scoring seven hat-tricks in total.
According to these statistics, he is the greatest international striker of all time, yet he never places on any typical greatest ever lists.
In fact, compared to his much more vaunted teammate Ferenc Puskas, he is tragically forgotten outside of Hungary.
Sadly, Kocsis died in tragic circumstances: after being diagnosed with leukaemia and stomach cancer simultaneously, he would be killed by a fall from the fourth floor of a Barcelona hospital. It will never be known if it was suicide, or a terrible accident.