Ange Postecoglou paid tribute to his former coach and Real Madrid legend Ferenc Puskas ahead of Celtic’s Champions League match at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.
A legend of the Hungarian national team in the early fifties of the last century, Puskas won three European Cup titles and five La Liga titles with Los Blancos Possessing what Madrid’s website describes as “the best left foot in the Santiago Bernabeu”.
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He later coached Postecoglou at Australia’s South Melbourne Hellas from 1989 to 1992, taking home the Australian crown in one of the most famous major finals in Australian football history in 1991 along the way.
With Puskas having a stronger understanding of Greek than English when he arrived at Down Under thanks to former coach Panathinaikos, the Athens-born Postecoglou acted as Hogarian’s translator, as well as left-back, driver and captain.
“His impact was more as a person,” Postecoglou told ESPN in an exclusive interview.
“Because he is one of the greatest footballers in the world and he has shown us that no matter where you are or what you have achieved, you can still be a decent person and be respected just by treating people as you would anyone else.
“The way he treated us, there was never any arrogance towards him. He took care of us as people and we ended up being – we were a beautiful young group – we ended up winning the championship because we wanted to play for him.
“And I think there is a lot in that, you have to have a connection between the manager and the players. And he did that, just by being a really humble and respectful person.
“As I got older and realized that I had the absolute privilege of sharing the locker room with one of the greatest footballers of all time, the impact he had on me was to show that he’s still a decent person in me who – that.”
Real Madrid on Wednesday night will host already eliminated Celtic, knowing that a win will keep them top of Group F.