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Ailing Puskas to auction prized possessions

October 12, 2005 19:56 IST

Ferenc Puskas is to sell more than 100 personal mementos of his illustrious soccer career at a British auction next month.

Hungary's most famous sportsman, who scored 83 goals in 84 appearances for his country and helped them dominate world football in the 1950s, is suffering from a form of Alzheimer's disease and requires full-time medical attention.

A recent charity match in Budapest between a Puskas XI and one of his former clubs, Real Madrid, to raise funds for his medical care reportedly resulted in a mere 7,000 pound ($12,210) donation to his family.

Items going under the hammer at Bonhams in Chester on November 2 include the Golden Boot awarded to him for his world record goals tally, his 1954 World Cup runners-up medal and a shirt signed by Pele.

"We are expecting a great deal of interest," said Bonhams spokeswoman Rebecca Ruff. "It's sad that he is not in the best of health but this sale offers a unique opportunity for followers of football."

Among the other items being sold by 78-year-old Puskas are his boots from the 1952 Olympic Games final in Helsinki and a montage of memorabilia from Hungary's historic 6-3 defeat of England at Wembley in 1953.

The plight of Puskas came to light recently following the charity match in Budapest, in which Real Madrid were reportedly paid an appearance fee of 892,000 pounds ($1.56 million).

The game had been intended to provide a trust fund for Puskas's wife Elizabeth to provide for his long-term care.

Newspaper reports said she has been left distressed while their daughter Aniko accused the organisers of "hijacking the name of Puskas" to get Real Madrid to Budapest.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter, a great admirer of Puskas, said the sport's world governing body would step in to help the ailing player.

Speaking in Wednesday's Daily Telegraph Blatter said: "We have already taken the decision to make a donation to Ferenc and Elizabeth Puskas. The only matter that is yet to be finalised is the amount.

"FIFA do not want to discuss the matter any further, and we are seeing it as a straightforward humanitarian situation that needs to be dealt with because of exceptional circumstances."

Puskas joined Real Madrid in 1958 as a 31-year-old and became part of the club's folklore when he scored four goals in the 7-3 demolition of Eintracht Frankfurt in the 1960 European Cup final.

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