János Göröcs, the talented Hungarian forward who played and scored in the very first match in the European Nations’ Cup – now the UEFA European Championship – in 1958, has died at the age of 80.
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Gánt-born Göröcs won 62 caps and an Olympic bronze medal for Hungary (1960), as well as earning himself legendary status in a 15-year career with Újpest Dózsa, who he joined at the age of 18 in 1957 when the club was still known as Budapest Dózsa.
Finding the net on his club debut the same year, Göröcs soon forced his way into the Hungarian national team, and notched his side’s goal in a 3-1 round of 16 first-leg defeat against the USSR in Moscow on 28 September 1958 – the inaugural match in the brand new European Nations’ Cup. The goal was one of 19 that he scored for the Magyars between 1958 and 1970.
A creative forward of superb vision and outstanding movement, Göröcs helped Újpest reach the UEFA European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-finals in 1961/62, finding the net regularly during his team’s run to the last four. In 1969, he was a key figure in the Újpest team that won a domestic league and cup ‘double’ and reached the final of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, a European club competition that was succeeded by the UEFA Cup when it came under UEFA’s auspices in the early 1970s.
Further domestic honours followed for Göröcs with Újpest before he suffered a serious knee injury playing for Hungary against Austria. The injury led to him winding down his playing career with Tatabánya Bányasz, before he eventually retired in 1974.
Following his playing career, Göröcs coached at Újpest for a spell, winning the Hungarian Cup in 1987, and he received numerous personal awards, including the Official Cross of the Hungarian Republic's Order of Merit (1994), the Freedom of Budapest (2012) and the Hungarian Football Federation’s Lifetime Merit award (2016).