Nandor Hidegkuti's time with la Viola

Throughout its history, Fiorentina has had a fair share of foreign managers. This trend started with the club's foundation, as the club's first manager was Karoly Csapkay, a Hungarian who also played for the club from 1926 through 1930. Early on in the club's history, Hungarian managers were a common theme. Five of the first six managers in the club's history were Hungarian and in total, La Viola has had nine managers from the Central European nation. Of these Hungarians, arguably the most famous is the club's last Hungarian manager, Nandor Hidegkuti.

The Hungarian was an incredible player who changed the game as an attacker. He played primarily for MTK, which changed its name a few times after being taken over by the AVH, the Communist government's secret police. He is most well known for pioneering the deep-lying center-forward position, at both the club and international level. With MTK he made 381 appearances in his playing career, scoring a very impressive 265 times. He was also an integral part of the Hungarian Aranycsapat, or golden team. Working with other talented attackers Sandor Kocsis, Jozsef Bozsik, and the legendary Ferenc Puskas, he helped Hungary reach some incredible heights playing from 1945 to 1958. Some argue that the 1956 side is still one of the greatest teams to not have won the World Cup, being upset by West Germany 3-2 in the final in Switzerland. During his international career, he made 69 appearances, scoring 39 goals, four of which were in the World Cup.

When Nandor Hidegkuti arrived in Florence in 1960, it marked his first time as a player or coach outside of his native country. Fiorentina was in the midst of a strong period in the club's history. They had lost the final of the 1957 European Cup to Real Madrid and had been regularly finishing near the top of Serie A.

Under Hidegkuti, the club struggled in Serie A in the first season, as la Viola finished in seventh place. Success, came elsewhere for the club that season. Qualifying for the first-ever European Cup Winner's Cup, Fiorentina lifted the trophy. They advanced through the Quarterfinals and Semis, beating Lucerne of Switzerland and Yugoslavia's Dinamo Zagreb. The final was over two-legs against Scottish powers Rangers. The first leg was at the famed Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow and saw striker Luigi Milan score goals in both halves to give the Italians a 2-0 win and a great advantage heading to their home leg. The second leg started with Milan scoring again in the first half. Rangers got on the board in the second half, but Swedish legend Kurt Hamrin scored late in the match to finish off the tie and ensure that Fiorentina would be the first club to lift the trophy.

Fifteen days later, the club lifted their second trophy under Hidegkuti's leadership. Fiorentina won their second Coppa Italia, defeating Lazio 2-0 in the final, which was held in the Stadio Comunale (now known as the Artemio Franchi) Below is a link I've included some (very) grainy footage of the final.

1961 Coppa Italia Final

The next season saw Fiorentina improve upon their Serie A results, finishing in third place, seven points behind AC Milan. However, their domestic cup form was disappointing, with la Viola being knocked out of the Coppa Italia in the Round of 16 by Mantova. Looking to defend their European silverware, Fiorentina continued to showcase their strength in the competition. The club once again reached the final of the competition, where it drew the first leg 1-1 before losing the second leg 3-0 to Atletico Madrid. By this time, however, records show that Hidegkuti had left the club, moving to another Italian side, Mantova.

1962 Cup Winners Cup final against Atletico Madrid

Hidegkuti never would win another continental trophy, but he did reach the European Cup semifinals in 1965 for Hungarian side Gyor before losing to Benfica, who had a young star by the name of Eusebio. The Hungarian coached until 1985 later taking jobs in Poland, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates. Hidegkuti would pass away on Valentine's Day, 2002 at the age of 79.