THINK of Hungarian football, think of Ferenc Puskas. One of the greatest players in the history of the game may not have played for Ferencvaros, but their visit to the city where he enjoyed one of his finest moments evokes his memory nonetheless.

Those of a certain vintage may be able to recall Puskas’s four-goal haul in Real Madrid’s 7-3 European Cup Final win at Hampden in 1960, but for Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou, the memories of his brilliance are much more recent.

Puskas was Postecoglou’s manager at South Melbourne in the early 90s, and his remit went beyond serving as his left-back. At times, he was both chauffeur and interpreter to Puskas, who repaid him by leaving an indelible mark on his footballing philosophy that endures to this day.

“When I talk about influences in my career and in my life obviously my father was the greatest influence of all,” said Postecoglou. “But in terms of other major influences he was right up there.

“I was really fortunate to spend two or three years with him. At the time, when he came to Australia, his English wasn’t great but he had taken Panathinaikos to the European Cup Final at Wembley so his Greek was decent.

“I was captain of the club at the time and I acted almost as his interpreter at the time. He even wanted me to pick him up from home. So I’d pick him up in my s***y little car and I was embarrassed that I had one of the world’s greatest footballers sitting in a little Datsun!

“We would spend hours together and for me that time was priceless. He taught me a lot about humility, being such a great man. That is you treat people well, irrespective of what you’ve done in your life, they’ll give everything for you. He created that as the team environment. We all would literally die for him - we didn’t want to disappoint him.

“We had success, we won a championship with him and that’s one of my favourite photos mate - holding up the trophy alongside him.

“It was sad for me that he passed away before I could thank him properly when I became a manager myself - I missed that opportunity - but he’s certainly somebody that I hold very dear in my heart.”

The offensive bent favoured by Postecoglou then can be traced back to those hours spent together with Puskas – as he so eloquently puts it – in that s****y little Datsun.

“He loved his attacking players,” he said. “He’d tell us almost not to worry about the results, don’t listen to the media, just play football for fun and go out there to score goals.

“He used to play with two wingers and he’d tell them never to come back past the half way line. I was a full-back at the time so I used to blow up about it, but then I figured out, “I’m going to attack as well!’ and he loved it.

“He just had this real fearlessness in his approach. He felt we were there to entertain our supporters, we were there to create magic moments because he had done that himself during his career. It rubbed off on us.

“We were a young team and we played with that fearlessness. That’s what won us the championships in the end. We didn’t worry about what the opposition was going, we’d just play our football. He certainly was one of the major influences for me.”

Having stuck to his guns since his days with Puskas, there was no chance that Postecoglou was going to abandon his principles for the Ferencvaros game this afternoon, even when taking into account the eight goals his team have leaked in just two Europa League group matches so far.

And whether he is talking about Hungary or simply being hungry, he has a characteristically colourful analogy on hand to illustrate his point.

“I enjoy that part of it, the fact that people debate the merits or otherwise, and whether I should take a pragmatic approach,” he said.

“But for me, that’s what I believe in, that’s what I think will bring us success, and that’s the approach.

“Mate, I did it at a World Cup facing up to (Arjen) Robben, (Robin) Van Persie, (Andres) Iniesta, (David) Villa. I took that approach, we paid a price – or a high tariff – then as well, but I still think it’s the way forward mate.

“My view on that is, if you are a strict vegetarian, you don’t drop into Macca's just because you are hungry mate, you know?

“This is what I believe in. I don't believe in it because I am trying to prove something, I just believe it is truly the way to create a special team.

“It's not easy, sure, and there are pitfalls along the way and you have to get the balance right. But I've had so much success doing it this way, I'm a believer in it, and it's how I think we will become a special team and have success.

“You gotta be prepared - and I certainly am and have had it throughout my whole career - that people are going to question it if the success isn't there.

“I understand that and I love the debate around it but it's not going to change me mate and this is what I believe in. I don't waver in it.

“I believe it because I believe it will get us to where we want to get to. And by the way, I'm nowhere near being a vegetarian either...that was just an analogy on my part.”