Martin O'Neill reminisces about idolizing Ferenc Puskas

Ireland manager chats to Team 33's Raf Diallo about early heroes and his goals for Distillery

BY Raf Diallo 13:52 Friday 5 May 2017, 13:52 5 May 2017

Martin O'Neill with Nottingham Forest in 1980. Peter Robinson/EMPICS Sport

As a child, Martin O'Neill supported Sunderland and that had much to do with former Ireland international defender Charlie Hurley who remains a club legend in the North East of England.

But at the time, Ferenc Puskas was one of the global stars at the time along with fellow Real Madrid legend Alfredo Di Stefano.

Ex-Hungary World Cup finalist Puskas made an impression on the young O'Neill as he told Newstalk's Team 33 at the launch of FAI Summer Soccer Schools at Aviva Stadium.

"Ferenc Puskas was my hero growing up because Real Madrid were the strong, strong side. So they were players you looked up to and - I don't really like the term role model - but there were players you aspired to get even half the achievements personally, then it would be pretty good," said O'Neill.

His admiration for Puskas extended to a little competition in the back garden with his brother.

"My older brother went to university, came back to tell me that he'd read this book on Puskas that Puskas was able to keep a tennis ball up 200 times, tapping it up without dropping it off his feet," he said.

"So he threw me a tennis ball and of course I had this great belief that if I could keep the ball 200 times I would be as good as Puskas. Well, in fact by the time I was 11 years of age, I could kick the ball up 200 times without a problem and was actually able to make a career out of the game. To be as good as Puskas, that was another thought."

O'Neill also spoke about scoring against Derry City and Barcelona respectively for Northern Irish side Distillery in 1971 which you can listen to below on the podcast player or on iTunes:

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