‘Puskas on Puskas: The Life and Times of a Footballing Legend’ edited by Rogan Taylor and Klara Jamrich (1997)

“Virtually his entire playing career – over twenty years – was spent not just at the top, but at the very top of his profession.  He never stepped down from that summit.  And whatever he touched in the footballing world turned to gold”. 

Ferenc Puskas sits alongside Alfredo di Stefano in being widely regarded as the best player in the pre-Pele football era.   His achievements were remarkable – as well as being a top player right up to his 40th birthday, he played in two of the most famous (non-World Cup) matches ever to take place on British soil, captained arguably the greatest international football team never to win a World Cup (Cruyff might have disagreed) and even coached Panathinaikos to the European Cup final. Add in 83 goals in 84 internationals, an Olympic gold medal and the fact that the FIFA Goal of the Season award is named after him, and you get some sense of his accomplishments. puskas 1

Puskas on Puskas is an oral history of Puskas’ career, told mainly in his own words.  Taylor and Jamrich supplement Puskas’ own memories with those of his contemporaries – players, coaches, administrators, and journalists.  These reflections are supplemented by the editors providing an overview of the times Puskas lived and played in.  It’s an interesting and informative approach to telling the story of Puskas, the Golden Squad and Hungary under Communist rule.

Puskas comes across as a lively, charming and determined figure. Away from football Puskas was a master smuggler, political rebel and not afraid to speak his mind. On the field he was not just a world-class player but also a charismatic leader, a committed team-mate and a tactical innovator.

Puskas starred in some of the most famous matches in history beginning with the England-Hungary 6-3 match of 1953 that is often (wrongly) portrayed as England’s first ever defeat on home soil (that honour goes to Ireland following a 2-0 win in 1949).  He also played in the controversial 1954 World Cup final (the so-called Miracle of Berne) where West Germany improbably inflicted the only defeat Hungary would suffer over a 6 year period with some help from the British ref and linesman.  If that wasn’t enough for one man, he scored 4 goals in the famous 1960 European Cup final in Glasgow, which saw Real Madrid beat Eintract Frankfurt 7-3 to win their 5th straight European Cup.


The book, brings to life not only the achievements of the players but also the tactical innovations of the Hungarian team and the challenges of the totalitarian regime that controlled the country.  Puskas recognised and exploited the power he had, certainly before the 1954 World Cup, in a team which the Communist authorities were eager to use to demonstrate the superiority of the “Socialist Man”

There a few hints that we don’t see every side of the man – certainly some of the British players interviewed suggest he may have had a wandering eye.  But the book doesn’t claim to be a comprehensive biography – rather is an oral history told mostly in the great man’s own words.

What makes the book a real treasure is the lack of other English language comprehensive books on Puskas – Taylor and Jamrich did a superb job in capturing the great man’s memories and using them to pull together an entertaining, informative book that is a fantastic read.


‘Life to the Limit: My Autobiography’ by Jenson Button (2017)

Life to the Limits is the story of Button’s relationship with motorsport and with his father.  It isn’t just about his F1 glory days – it’s about the trials and tribulations it took to get there.  Its an enjoyable read and an inside look into a world that seems so captivating from the outside. jensen button

It begins with Button’s karting days, when he and his dad would travel the length of the UK competing.  He goes through his career through each of the levels and formulas, becoming F1 champion with Brawn before seeking a new challenge at Mercedes and eventually retiring.

It is a racing autobiography rather than a complete story of Jensen’s life.  It is obvious there is plenty of his personal life not covered – reported infidelity is ignored, and an abortion is covered only as a comment on how the press covered him.

The book is a great insight into the world of Formula 1 and the circus that surrounds it. Button gives interesting insights into some of the sports most fascinating characters – Flavio Briatorie most of all. He does not hold back his thoughts on other drivers and where he has made mistakes in his career. Shines a light on some of the stranger decisions in Jensen’s career – most notably his decision to leave Brawn just after wining the World Championship.


At times there are two many technical details, and in places it can be a little bit like a recitation of results – in this race x,y,z, happened, I finished in x position.

The last 5th of the book becomes incredibly emotional.  Button’s relationship with his father was the defining relationship of his life and his career.  The end of his father’s life and the impact it had on Button is at times difficult to read.

Overall, this is a nicely written autobiography.  It is the absorbing story of a life dedicated to building a racing career and a fascinating insight into what that career entailed.  Finally it becomes a personal love letter to his father.  We don’t necessarily see the full real Jensen Button, but we see more than enough to make this an enjoyable and engrossing read.