May 21st, 2022.
Soccerbook Consulting Owners Gary Ireland and Carine Ireland have returned from a 4 day visit to beautiful Hungary where their long time colleague and one of Hungarys leading coaches, specializing in long term technical development of players, Technical Director of Puskas Academy youth sector Peter Horvath and the Puskas Center for Football Education & Methodology invited them as special guests to a symposium in Hungary May 19th, 2022. Accompanying Gary and Carine was Soccerbook Consulting client John Owens who was invited by Gary and Carine to present his work at the symposium as a speaker. Their last visit to Hungary was in 2019 as guests of Peter Horvath, where they attended the Puskás Suzuki U17 Cup, one of Europe’s top youth tournaments regularly featuring Real Madrid, Flamengo and Bayern Munich with Puskas Academy as reigning champions.
The symposium 'Optimizing Individual Performance of Youth Players Within Academies’ was held at the Center for Football Education & Methodology facility located within the Puskas Academy FC facility one of Europe’s most beautiful football facilities just 20 minutes east of Budapest, known as the ‘Pancho Arena’ - Pancho being the nickname given to Ferenc Puskas as a player at Real Madrid. see video of facility. This unique and beautiful stadium serves as the first team (3rd place Hungarian 1st Division) and youth team facility, a Ferenc Puskas museum, training fields & hotel. Described as ‘Lord of The Rings’ by Juventus coaches in attendance, the venue pays homage to Ferenc Puskas, one of the most famous and prolific football players in history who was the top player for one of the best teams in history. Between 1950 and 1956 The Mighty Magyars -The Golden Team set the world alight by beating England 6:3 and 7:1, Englands heaviest defeat to this day. In 2016 the BBC listed the Hungary team as the best ever team in history of football. Hungary is credited for successfully implementing an early form of "Total Football", later used effectively by the Dutch in the 1970’s. Hungary is also recognized for the introduction of new, scientific coaching and tactical innovations, which were subsequently adopted throughout the game- players were taught and encouraged to be versatile and for players to be able to play in any position. Coincidentally one of the biggest influences on Hungarian football was English coach Jimmy Hogan who placed technique as the most important facet of the game laying the foundation for ‘Total Football’, credited to the Dutch but actually inspired by the Hungarians. Hungarian football led the world in innovation.
100+ participants attended the event from Hungary including Directors from all Hungarian football academies, the Hungarian F.A & club directors of 10 clubs from Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia & Romania affiliated with Hungarian football as part of Puskas Academy Carpathian Basin Academy System. Along with Technical Director of Puskas Academy Peter Horvath presentation ‘Impact of Technique on Individual Decision Making’, focused on position specific techniques and concepts, relevant to all systems/formations and style of play and the importance of optimizing individual technique & implementation. Simon Ireland and Gary Ireland have been working with Peter since 1992 as teammates and coaching associates and through Peters working with and for the Ireland’s in California they share many similar values and philosophies.
John Owens, the former coach and Manager of Liverpool FC (19 years) & former assessor of EPL & MLS Academies & Doublepass Auditor presented his 'Principles of Play-Decision Making’ which is widely used by national federations curriculums, on UEFA courses and clubs and coaches associations worldwide. John has coached many well known players such as Robbie Fowler, England and Liverpool captain and current Aston Villa Manager Steven Gerrard, Trent Alexander Arnold, Steve McManaman, Jamie Carragher, European Player of The Year Michael Owen, Wolves Captain Conor Cody. The emphasis of Johns presentation placed on the importance and implementation of technique and relevance to systems, tactics, formation and strategy as the area of 'subjective probability in football decision making’, which is critical to decision making. Principles of Play (POP) which has featured prominently in the Croatian Football Federation's Development curriculum book. John has also presented to the Trinidad and Tobago F.A and his work has featured at the home page for 'The Coaching Manual'. John has presented many times to USA youth clubs and leagues, some of whom use Principles of Play as the foundation of their coaching including GM & DOC of leading girls youth football club PSV Union FC. Peter Horvath the Technical Director of leading Hungarian club Puskas Academy (Youth Academy) has been using Principles of Play after seeing it on a Liverpool Football Academy visits. John's chart has been used by former Liverpool FC and Celtic coach and current Leicester City manager Brendan Rogers according to Modern Soccer Coach; John also presented to NorCal Premier soccer league in the USA and in 2019 John presented Principles of Play at the Association of Indian Football Coaches (AIFC) coaching symposium. John also delivered Principles of Play to professional clubs and their academies on behalf of Belgian company DoublePass including EPL, EFL, MLS/USA, Italy, Norway, Greece Japan J-League, India and Canada. For 19 years John Owens Principles of Play chart was displayed at the entrance of Liverpool FC Academy for visitors from every corner of the world to see including Academy players and staff coaches at Liverpool Football Club.
Former Liverpool FC Academy coach and owner of Soccerbook Consulting Gary Ireland contributed to John Owens presentation and he presented FAQ’s and too Q&A’s from the audience on the subject of Principles of Play/Decision Making. Gary explained with John the meaning behind Principles of Play and its philosophical, cultural, educational impacts on the model and how style of play, systems of play, formation, tactics, physical training overlay with these principles.
The emphasis of Johns presentation is placed on importance of and implementation of technique and relevance to systems, tactics, formation and strategy as the area of 'subjective probability in football decision making’, which is the critical underlying foundation of player decision making.
Gary, Carine and John have been working together since 2003 after Gary’s coaching tenure at Liverpool FC Academy under John and Gary’s work as Assistant to Wiel Coerver at Al Wasl Club in Dubai (methods of training individual technique to optimize team performance) has enabled him to specialize in optimizing individual performance within systems based coaching with a focus on how professional Academies can allow creative development within a structured Academy system allowing for not only effective player performance but to develop entertaining players. With the emphasis on not only clubs seeking results but also to provide entertainment to attract and retain clubs’ fan base, club owners realize that fans are not only attracted to the match result but the aesthetic of the performance as well as the added incentive of enhancing player valuation.
Alberto Lampo and Bruno Loureiro from Italian club Juventus Individual technical and tactical development area with a special focus and attention on the single player, and the importance of demonstrating materials. They presented their ‘pre-during-post’ technical modules within practice sessions for what they call ‘golden players’ and provided excellent insight into how they approach player development and individualized training modules within their Academy structure. Their practical demonstration used wingers to illustrate their practice plan after Alberto expertly demonstrated combination movements with the Puskas youth players. The commencement of his exercises impressed Gary and Carine due to the 'activation' movement (split feet action) which required players to mobilize and get into the ready position. This is something that isn't seen often enough when coaches are training youth players. Of particular interest was their approach to using the game example as the learning opportunity by extracting moments of the game and identifying the action to bring the action to the training field as they believe the emotion of the game is more easily to recall by the player which in turn will accelerate learning. Also of interest was their appreciation of the benefit of uneven playing fields which offer unpredictable bounce of the ball, thereby requiring players to anticipate well in advance the delivery, flight and deviation of the ball. This was contrasted in their support of futsal as a training supplement, not a replacement. Their well rounded perspective of the game was shared by the other presenters in this matter.
Theoretical presentations by guest coaches were made in the morning sessions and in the afternoon Peter Horvath presented the guest clinicians practical sessions from Puskas Academy and Juventus on the field and described the exercises which were illustrated by Puskas Academy coaching staff players in front of 100 coaches.
Gary Ireland contributed indirectly to Peter’s presentation after 25 years of collaborating with him on the philosophy and application of Peter's individual training model, specifically the IO ‘input’ & ’output’ terminology phrase Gary created which Peter used to describe how technique impacts the skill. The ‘input-output’ terminology (otherwise known as what Gary describes as ‘pre-moves’) was inspired by peoples’ fascination with ‘moves’ which Gary points out that many coaches and players didn’t understand or failed to consider the critical moments before and after the actual ‘move’. When Gary worked with Simon Ireland as Assistant to Wiel Coerver in Dubai he heard Wiel Coerver used the word ‘actions’ frequently to describe what others called ‘moves’. Actions are different to ‘moves’ because action has a broader meaning. Whereas many see ‘moves’ as the actual stand-alone movement which can often be eye catching and where a duel can be won or lost, many other things actually go into creating that magical game changing moment.
We have learned that Puskas Academy will host similar events in the future with some of the world leading clinicians and greatest minds in youth development. Our impression is that Puskas Academy is not only a club and youth Academy but also a learning hub, where best practice nationally and internationally and that the Puskas Academia is focused on being a center of innovation that intends to host many similar multi sport events with football at the forefront.
PUSKAS CUP: On June 2-6, 2022 Puskas Academy will once again host one of Europe’s most prestigious youth professional tournament\s. The 12th Puskás Suzuki U17 Cup which Puskas Academy are current champions will feature Puskás Academy, Real Madrid, Panathinaikos, Flamengo, Bayern Munich, Sporting Lisbon, Genk and Honved. Bayern Munich are unable to attend, however, in their place Dinamo Kiev who are-in part currently being hosted by Puskas Academia will participate.
Contact Gary Ireland firstname.lastname@example.org 650-387 4128
Contact Carine Ireland email@example.com 650- 799 7984
Gary Ireland Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/garyjireland/
Carine Ireland Linked https://www.linkedin.com/in/carineireland/
Peter Horvath Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/peter-horvath-86a3a840/
One of Europe’s most beautiful football facilities near Budapest, known as the ‘Pancho Arena’ - Pancho being the nickname given to Ferenc Puskas as a player at Real Madrid. see video of facility. This unique and beautiful stadium serves as the first and youth team facility, a Ferenc Puskas museum, training fields & hotel.
June 2-6, 2022 one of Europes most prestigious tournaments will feature reigning champions Puskás Academy, Real Madrid, Panathinaikos, Flamengo, Bayern Munich, Sporting Lisbon, Genk, Honved, Dinamo Kiev and a team from Puskas Academy Carpathian Academy system
information coming soon
information coming soon
MIGHTY MAGYARS- RETURN TO GREATNESS
Hungary is known by many in the football world was having produced arguably the best team in the history of the game, led by one of the best players in history, Ferenc Puskas. He ranks along side Cruyff, Pele, Best, Di Stefano, Eusebio, Beckenbauer, Charlton and Zidane and Messi. Puskas played for Honved in Hungary in the 1950’s before moving to Real Madrid where he won 3 European Cup trophies, World and European Player of the Year Awards and scoring 156 goals in 180 games. Very few players in this history of the game dominated the game for club and country as Puskas did. Indeed, FIFA dedicated their goal of the year award in his honor. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIFA_Puskás_Award I first heard of Puskas as a child growing up in Liverpool. In fact I write this a day after the European Champions League Final between Liverpool and Real Madrid (lets not talk about that one!). Only Zidane and Di Stefano are held with the same esteem as Puskas by Real Madrid fans but Puskas is more revered by Liverpool fans. My father who had played at Leeds United (they wore all white like Real Madrid) would speak glowingly about Puskas, echoed by everyone he introduced me to while growing up all over the world. It was obvious to me that he was considered by many as a soccer legend so I conjured up images of how he played without ever having seen him play. My dad would talk about the great goals Puskas scored and the beauty and grace of his movement and his wonderful left foot touch. As recent as yesterday my dad said in an email to me "Puskas made football an art form". I would wonder as a child what it was that moved my father and so many other highly regarded players like him. The interesting thing is that my father himself had hardly seen Puskas play. He had only seen a few games live on black and white TV. 1954 World Cup as a 10 year old and the 1960 European Cup Final 7:3 win over Eintracht Frankfurt played in front of 127,000 fans with Puskas scoring 4 goals and Di Stefano scoring 3 goals. I was really curious how greatness could be transmitted across the generations. It was not as though there were a multitude of TV viewing options or VHS or CD’s or internet back in those days. And likewise as a child we didn’t have access to video or the luxury of multi channel TV options, nor DVD or VHS until later in my teens. Even then it was rare to find footage of any type of football. Once a week live games on TV or an occasional replay was all we could see. So it was mostly fables and anecdotal stories from my father or older coaches or players and fans who either saw live televised games of Real Madrid or, rarer still, perhaps had seen him play in person. It was only through eloquent storytelling of coaches and my father and fellow professionals or commentators or radio or perhaps a still photo illustrating a perfectly executed technique that resonated with myself and millions of others. Just storytelling and attempts to recreate the action they only heard about. I was doing ‘moves’ and movements based on what I heard and copying those who could do them. We didn’t have replay or coaching aids. In doing this, the way we loosely interpreted the exercises enabled us to develop our own unique style of play. I later heard stories from renowned Rogan Taylor who was my head professor and founder of the Football Industries MBA program I attended who said he only wore a red Liverpool shirt as a kid in Liverpool as he and every other kid would try to emulate their local footballing heroes but as soon as he saw the 7:3 Real Madrid v Eintracht Frankfurt victory on TV, he switched to wearing all white to be like Puskas and his new found love, Real Madrid. I think that Real and Puskas and his equal Di Stefano might have had something to do with my dad wanting to play for Leeds United, who played a similar brand of elegant, artistic football which found them at the top of European football for a brief period.
EURO 96 & LES MURRAY
I was in England during the Euro 96 Championships when another wonderful moment occurred which I will remember for the rest of my life. I was assistant Technical Observer for the Czech National Team losing 2:1 on a golden goal to Germany at Wembley Stadium. The Czechs weren't supposed to make it that far but it was quite a journey and a story to tell for another day. Puskas’ close friend Les Murray had invited me to appear on a live broadcast from London's East End where he had found a studio location with a backdrop of the Tower Bridge. They had knocked out the window to give a clear image of the bridge behind us which was amazing. What I didn’t know was that Martin Tyler was joining us on the show. I should have guessed because Martin was contracted by Les and SBSTV to commentate on the previous World Cup games. Martin Tyler was the voice I had been hearing from my transistor radio in far away New Zealand as child. Enter Martin Tyler, a big man with a gentle voice. I stopped him before he could even say hello and told him that it was his voice that I heard on the radio every Saturday after midnight when I tuned into the radio frequency that brought me all the way back ‘home’ to Anfield. Before we went live to a million viewers ‘down under’, Martin excitedly told us an amazing story. He said he had just come from Wembley Stadium where they had assembled some current Premier League stars and former greats. Puskas was there being filmed and interviewed on how he scored his ‘pull back' goal vs England that had the world talking about how it left England captain Billy Wright on his ‘behind'. See the goal here. Martin said they asked Puskas to replicate the goal and he had the current professional players copy him. Puskas was 69 years old at the time. No-one expected Puskas to do it 10 times in a row without warming up. Martin said he was astonished that Puskas repeatedly put the ball in the same place whereas the current professionals couldn't do it consistently. Once again, another story by a great storyteller who conjured up all sorts of images of the great player, and the Puskas legacy continued.
ROGAN TAYLOR- PUSKAS ON PUSKAS https://www.amazon.com/Puskas-Life-Times-Footballing-Legend/dp/1861050836
NEW ZEALAND, MARTIN TYLER AND PUSKAS
As a young teenager in the early 1979 Liverpool were the dominant team in England and Europe, winning 3 consecutive European Cups (one of them was vs Real Madrid) and legendary commentator Martin Tyler was the person who conjured up images on the radio for us remote antipodeans. After listening to the game with the radio under my pillow all night I could hardly sleep and at the crack of dawn I sprang out of bed with the ball and ran down to the local park where I would try and re-create what I had been hearing on the radio-even to the extent of imitating the crowd noise and the crackle of the transistor radio. There weren’t packs of soccer players on the local park in Rugby-mad New Zealand- just my brothers and I and a few mates such as Paul Williams and one or two others as well as my dad who would come and kick the ball with us as I tried to reproduce what I had heard on the radio and then what my dad was showing me…I operated on adrenaline before lack of sleep exhausted me in my attempt to re-create, albeit in vein, the movements I had heard on the radio and what my dad was doing with the ball. I would replay the game I had seen in my head and commentate to myself as I tried to become 'that' player I had been listening Martin Tyler describe. One such memory on the radio was a goal Ronnie Whelan scored in the FA Cup final, Years later I would see the goal again on video and it was exactly as he described it. As a side note, when I was coaching at Liverpool FC Academy Ronnie Whelan was on the field next to me helping Academy Director Steve Heighway coach the Liverpool FC youngsters. I had a big smile on my face at the time but I do regret not telling him the impression he had on my life. The ‘Match of The Day’ taped game from England arrived a week later by airplane but we knew the results of the games already. The only live commentary we got was radio and the only voice I heard was Martin Tyler, who can still be heard today bringing you the English Premier League, only this time on TV. Martin Tyler was the first English commentator who correctly pronounced players names (e.g Didier Six and Michel Platini) as they were pronounced in their native language. His exceptional ability to conjure up images and his use of language to bring color and sight to sound was second to none and remains to this day. You can hear Martin every weekend on television when he commentates the English Premier League games. I suppose that resonated with Les who similarly pronounced players names in Australia after most commentators made a mess of foreign players names and club names.
ESCAPE TO VICTORY- THE MOVIE, JACK KENDRICK, BOBBY MOORE, PELE, PETER HORVATH & MTK
Escape to Victory was a 1981 American film and football cult classic directed by John Huston, starring Sylvester Stallone Michael Caine Max von Sydow Bobby Moore John Wark Osvaldo Ardiles Kazimierz Deyna Werner Roth Mike Summerbee Russell Osman about Allied prisoners of war who are interned in a German prison camp during the Second World War who play an exhibition match of football against a German team. The game was filmed in the Hungária körúti stadion in Budapest, Hungary, home of MTK Budapest and based on the 1962 Hungarian film drama Két félidő a pokolban ("Two half-times in Hell"), which was directed by Zoltán Fábri and won the critics' award at the 1962 Boston Cinema Festival. I first saw it in Christchurch, New Zealand as a schoolboy. In 1987 while in Lake Placid, New York, my brother Simon and I were playing in the Soccer America Indoor Tournament for the British All Stars (we won the tournament, Simon made MVP & leading scorer) and afterwards while going for a walk in the town we met poet/actor/boxer Jack Kendrick along with his Swedish born son Rhidian. Jack had acted as a body double in the Escape to Victory movie. Fast forward to the mid-90's, I learned from Peter Horvath that he had watched the filming of the movie while he was a boy playing for the MTK youth team. In 1990 we were asked to help promote the USA v Russia match at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto. We had an idea to bring some famous players and movie stars to the game. Jack was trying to help us locate the former cast of the film. We tried to get Michael Caine and Stallone but they werent able to make it and my call to Eusebio with my father on the line to a loud Lisbon restaurant proved fruitless. We did manage to get Bobby Moore over which was tremendous and much to my delight, I was asked to pick him up from the airport and for the entire week he was here, I was his personal guide, taking him everywhere. After he gave the man of the match award away, we jumped in the car and drove through the crowd back to Palo Alto. He was easily recognized by many and it took a while for us to get through the traffic. He wasnt phased. The only thing he wanted to do was to go to Stanford Shopping mall and buy a jump rope....We never did find one. On a visit to Hungary to see Peter and his family years later we wanted to see the MTK where the movie was filmed. Carine and I saw a film poster, in Dutch and Hungarian that was hanging on the wall in the main office area. I asked if I could buy it but they said it wasnt possible. As we were leaving, a Hungarian voice called back to Peter. Much to our delight, Peter told us that the man had said we could have it for free. I have it to this day. There were only a handful of these made and a search for the poster on the internet showed up nothing. Another great coincidence tying Hungary to my football journey! What were the chances that one of my best friends who I had met in California, a Hungarian growing up in communist run Hungary, behind the iron curtain, would one day be showing me the movie location of a film that made such an impression on my life.
AUSTRALIA- SAINT GEORGE BUDAPEST & SURFERS PARADISE….AND HUNGARIANS
Another experience I had with Hungarian football occurred out of the blue, one sunny day playing soccer on the beach in Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia as a 17 year old with my brother Ross and father Victor. While we were kicking the ball around we were approached by several middle aged Hungarian men who asked for a game. I initially didnt take it seriously but then we agreed to play them in a 3 v 3 game. It turned out that the men were national youth team coaches and asst. mens pro. coach at St George Budapest in Sydney, the top professional club in Australia at that time. They were on vacation and we had just signed for Twin Towns F.C in the State mens league and had been selected to play for Gold Coast United vs. National League side Brisbane City. Most of my training back then was simply playing on the beach all day long while waiting for my big break. I was hoping to get to Europe and play there but needed to get my feet wet in Australia first. Saint George was one of the biggest clubs in Australia at the time coached by the most famous coach, a Serb of Hungarian descent, Frank Arok. They were the first ones to introduce me to soccer tennis (aside from my dad). When we went to visit them at their motel, they were sitting around the pool and playing soccer tennis…I thought it was tremendous and was awed how good they were. They wanted to sign myself and Ross for the youth team, considered one of the best in the country at that time, and they were interested in Simon after he returned from the USA. They told us that we could stay in the coaches house as he was still on vacation in Europe. His name was Frank Arok. I knew nothing about him back then but he ended up being perhaps the most famous coach in Australian history. We immediately drove down to Sydney where we picked up my brother Simon from the airport who had left his US college scholarship at the University of Tampa to return to Australia. The rest of the story is for another time.
THE PUSKAS ACADEMY STORY
The Puskas Academy stadium is also called ‘Pancho Arena’, a nickname given to Puskas as a player at Real Madrid. It could only have been built with the help of the government and the backing of a benevolent dictator (Hungarian Prime minister Viktor Orban- coincidentally was born in the same town) wanting to bring Hungary back to its former greatness and restore its national pride. Located in the undulating rural, pastoral landscape 30 minutes west of Budapest Hungary, lies Felcsut, a town of only 1,600 people. Part cathedral, part piece of art and part stadium, the Pancho Arena holds 3,800 people and was built at a cost of approximately USD$15 million. It serves as the first and youth team facility and an impressive Puskas museum is also located in the VIP section of the ground as well as multiple training fields and a large dormitory. Viktor Orban has created the most impressive and unique of stadiums, in the name of the greatest Hungarian player of all time and one of the legends of the world game. You would have to see it to believe it. The Puskas Academy is brilliant, unusual, strange, magical all at the same time- there is nothing like it on the planet. The building is constructed beautifully and the craftsmanship is incredible. PM Orban has directed the government to spend close to $1billion Euros renovating and constructing many of Hungarys dilapidated stadiums with donations to constructing these facilities considered tax deductible through a foundation he established.