Guttmann, Bela : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Guttmann, Bela

Guttman was a world-class player in Hungary, Austria, and the United States before becoming one of the most successful coaches in history. A coach for 30 years in ten different countries, Guttman led the National team of Hungary, Austria, the Netherlands, Italy, Brazil, Uruguay, and Portugal. He is also credited with the creation of the legendary 4-2-4 formation that allowed the Brazilian domination of the international soccer scene in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Guttman allegedly invented the formation while coaching Sao Paulo and the Brazilian national team in the mid-1950s. He is a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. March 13, 1900 - d. Aug. 28, 1981

Career Highlights:
A halfback in the 1920s, Guttman played for the club team MTK Budapest and helped them win the Hungarian League championship in 1921. After appearing in four games for the Hungarian National team from 1921-1924 (he also played in the 1924 Olympics, which are not considered full international games), Guttman left for Austria and played for Hakoah-Vienna, the all Jewish team that struck terror into opponents' hearts. He helped them to some unforgettable victories over Europe's soccer elite, including English cup holders West Ham and champions Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Guttman played for Hakoah for a number of years and was a member of the squad in 1926 when they toured the United States. In one of the most popular tours in American history, the all-Jewish squad played before over 200,000 fans in ten games, including a record crowd of 46,000 at the Polo Grounds in New York City (the record stood until 1977). Following the tour, Guttman was one of many Hakoah players who remained in the United States to play in the top American league, the ASL (American Soccer League).

Guttman signed with the New York Giants for the 1926-27 season and appeared in 35 games at center-halfback. The following year, he played in 43 games and scored two goals. After playing part of the 1928-29 season in the Eastern Soccer League (a rival of the ASL), Guttman played for the New York Soccer Club when the two leagues merged. He finished his ASL years with the Hakoah All-Stars, a team composed of former Hakoah-Vienna stars. During his career in the ASL, Guttman appeared in 186 games.

Guttman retired from playing in 1935 and began his illustrious coaching career. He took the Dutch squad Twente F.C to the northern Netherland title and within a whisker of the national title. He coached several Eastern European teams before being appointed head coach of Italian powerhouse A.C. Milan. He led the powerful club to the top of the Italian table only to be fired in murky anti-Semitic circumstances.

After the failed 1956 Hungarian Uprising (an anti-Communist uprising that was suppressed by Soviet troops), Guttman went to South America and taught the Brazilians his 4-2-4 formation. Guttman then returned to Europe and reached the pinnacle of his achievement in Portugal. Following a successful tenure in the national team, he was appointed coach of Benfica, the nation's biggest club. In 1961, the Portugese side became the first team to take the European title away from Real Madrid; they repeated the feat the following year.

Guttman coached in Greece, Switzerland and Austria again before retiring in 1974. During his lengthy career, Guttman won two European Cups, seven National Championships and seven National Cups overall. He is a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

Budapest, Hungary

Career Dates:
Played: 1921-1935
Coached: 1935-1974

Use links below to navigate through the soccer section of Jews In Sports.

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encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)
The American Soccer League, 1921-1931: The Golden Years of American Soccer, by Colin Jose (Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1998)
International Jewish Sports Hall Of Fame
Shem Hamishak Magazine