László Kubala Stecz was born in Budapest in 1927. Though Laszlo was Hungarian by birth, his father, Pal, was of Slovak descent and his mother, Anna Stecz had mixed Polish, Slovak and Hungarian origins. László was a talented footballer, though his development was held back by the Second World War. In 1945, he joined Ferencvaros; but then in 1946 he moved to Czechoslovakia to play for Slovan Bratislava. He changed citizenship, played six times for Czechoslovakia and married Anna Daucik, sister of the national team’s coach.
In 1948, László Kubala returned to Hungary. He played three times for the country of his birth. But Hungary was falling under Communist rule. László escaped in the back of a truck as a political refugee, seeking to refuse drafting. He went to Austria, then to Italy. Kubala was banned for one year by FIFA for breaking his contract in Hungary. In 1949, FC Torino asked him to play for them in a prestige match against Benfica in Portugal. Kubala’s young child was sick, so he did not go. On the return flight 31 people died in the Superga air disaster. In 1951 he joined FC Barcelona. He stayed there for ten years, becoming a Spanish citizen.
László/Ladislau Kubala became a football legend in Spain. He played 186 games for Barcelona and 19 times for Spain. In 1955 Kubala appeared as himself in a film, Las Ases Buscan la Paz. From 1961 to 1963 he was manager at FC Barcelona. From 1969 till 1980 he was coach of Spain’s national team. Later he coached teams in Spain, Saudi Arabia and Paraguay. Ladislau Kubala died in 2002. A statue in his honour was erected at the Camp Nou stadium.
Few footballers get to play for two different countries: László Kubala Stecz played for four: Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Catalonia and Spain. His parents thought of themselves as Slovaks. Kubala’s greatest success was with Barcelona, where he is remembered as a club legend, alongside Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas, also players with multiple belongings. Laszlo Kubala’s life story touches on football, politics, nationalism and migration.
Educators can work with young people on these questions:
- What is the role of nationality in his life?
- What does his story tell us about motivation and effects of migration?
Find out more
Have a look at a snippet of the movie Las Ases Buscan la Paz. You can also read more about his career in an excellent biographical piece on These Football Times. Listen to an in-depth podcast episode of The Barcelona Podcast on the role of Hunarians in the shaping of the club. Watch Kubala in action in 1953 as part of a “Rest of Europe”-team who played England to mark the 90th anniversary of the Football Association on British Pathe. Note how Kubala is called “the Spaniand”.
Kubala, 30 September 1953 (Photo: Anefo / Dutch National Archives).
LIFE STORIES To discover now
Do you wanna know more?
HISTORY CAN BE EXPLORED THROUGH THE LIVES OF INDIVIDUALS
Browse our collection of stories about football history and inclusion. With the history of football being made up of millions of stories, of individuals and communities, of movements and processes, we offer stories that can inspire our cultural conversations today.
Get to know untold stories where individuals are making history with football. When faced with insurmountable challenges, individuals past and present can use football as a cultural force to foster positive change in society. We honour these individuals and tell their ‘untold’ stories in short videos.
Explore our innovative educational resources that use football’s history, heritage and legacy to engage young people. The resources include ready-made lesson plans and historical source collections for school history education as well as toolkit with activities for non-formal settings.
In the wake of the 2015 migration peak, activists and volunteers across Europe have been involved in supporting refugees, sometimes with the simple act of offering space and friendship to participate in football through grassroots clubs to help newcomers integrate.
BBC Sport’s Football Focus visits Bundesliga side FC Union Berlin, a “rebellious” football club from East Berlin with a special set of fans, playing their first season in Germany’s top flight 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
LATEST POST You may also be interested in
Today in 1964, a football match was organised between Yugoslavia and a UEFA team “Rest of Europe”.
This article is the result of a webinar series from EuroClio which tackled football and social issues to explore how football history and society intertwine.
The online racism following the European Championship finals, after a year of unprecedented activism against it, shows how much work remains.
Today in 1944 football was played in the concentration camp Tezerin. What does this propaganda footage tell us about the Holocaust?