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Postecoglou reflects on Puskas influence

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou has spoken about the influence Hungary and Real Madrid great Ferenc Puskas has had on his career ahead of his side’s Europa League clash with Ferencvaros.

Postecoglou played under Puskas for South Melbourne from 1989-1992, forming a close bond before launching his own coaching career at the same club.

And his thoughts quickly turned to Puskas as he prepared for Tuesday’s must-win clash against the Hungary outfit.

“I was fortunate enough to spend a few years with the great Ferenc Puskas, an absolute gentleman, and someone who holds a very dear place in my heart,” Postecoglou said.

“There have been varying influences in the way I look at football and the predominant one was my father but Ferenc was one of the most significant influences.

“I was captain of South Melbourne and he was one of the biggest legends of the game.

“From the moment he wandered through he was just humble. We were constantly pestering him to tell us stories about Real Madrid, what he did at Hampden, what he did at Wembley.

“He was forever downplaying everything and it just showed you the greatness of the man was just his humility.”

Greek-born Australian Postecoglou said he shared a football philosophy with Puskas – who helped transform the game with Hungary and Real – and quickly learned a lot about leadership from his mentor.

“When he came to Australia his English wasn’t great but he had coached Panathinaikos to a European Cup final so his Greek was decent, so I acted almost as an interpreter,” Postecoglou said.

“I used to pick him up from his house and drive him to training in my crappy old car, which I was embarrassed about.

“But we swapped many stories and his philosophy to football was basically just go out there and enjoy yourselves and score goals.

“We won a championship with him and part of the reason we won was the atmosphere within the group, because nobody wanted to let him down.

“I was really sad when he passed away because when he left Australia I wasn’t able to reconnect with him – I would have loved to thank him personally for the influence he was, as a man as much as he was as a coach.”

Both Celtic and Ferencvaros have lost their opening two matches against Real Betis and Bayer Leverkusen, with the Hoops conceding eight goals.

However Postecoglou insisted his attacking approach would not change.

A full strength Celtic will welcome back Adam Montgomery from injury for the Europa League encounter.

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