In conversation with Paul Shaw

Englishman Paul Shaw started his career at Arsenal before going on to play for Millwall and Gillingham most notably. He moved around various clubs in England before finding himself in Budapest at Ferencváros in 2008. He went on to score 21 goals in 48 appearances for the Stadion Albert Flórián club and became a real fans favourite. I caught up with Paul for a chat about his time in Hungary. 


How did your move to Hungary and Ferencváros come about?

The contacts I had from Sheffield United had mentioned sometime before that they were interested in getting involved in Fradi and would I be interested in possibly going out to take a look at the club. I came to take a look and was instantly impressed with everything to do with the club, the staff, players, Budapest as a city and of course the supporters.


Were Ferencváros a club you had heard of before and did you have any knowledge of Hungarian football?

I knew that Hungarian football was a major force many years ago, but I did a lot of research on the country and the club before I came out. Ferencváros is the most well known Hungarian club in England. The challenge to get the club back to the top league was also a factor in me joining.


What where your first thoughts when you arrived at the club?

I thought that it was a club with a incredible amount of potential, but there was a lot of negativity around the club at that time. The size of the club was apparent from the start because there was more press or TV coverage on Fradi than any other club even though the were in the 2nd division.


After playing for Millwall I guess you would of been used to an intimidating atmosphere but was the support at Ferencváros a surprise to you?

The support didn’t surprise me but the passion did. This is what made it probably the best place I have played my football in my career. I will never forget my first home game, I believe there was only 13,000 fans there but it sounded and felt like more. I believe Millwall and Fradi fans are very similar though because they want to see there players giving everything in every game. If the supporters can show that passion then the least the players can do is show the same passion back.


Did the pressure that playing for Ferencváros become apparent straight away?

I believe it was important that we had senior players like Lipcsei, Dragóner, Ferenczi and myself that have played under pressure for many years that would help the younger players. These three players are legends and rightly so as they were great professionals and role models for young players. I would of loved to play in the same team with these guys 5 years earlier. Dragi was such a leader and would run through a brick wall for his team, Technically Lipscei was immense. As a forward you only had to make a run and Lipscei would find you. Ferenci was the perfect forward partner, a real goalscorer. He was such a hard worker also.


You were one of the success stories for English players at Ferencváros and are still fondly remembered but was there ever a feeling of being an outsider, ie non Hungarian?

Not at all, the Hungarian people made myself and my family feel so welcome. Everybody at the club helped us settle so quickly. They helped find a place to live and schools for my children which went a long way to helping us settle quickly.


How did the Hungarian 2nd division compare to conference football in England?

The leagues in England and Hungary are so different. All the leagues in England have a very high speed about them, the leagues in Hungary are much slower in the pace but the players do have a very high technical ability


What do you think can be done to improve the quality of football in Hungary?

To improve training facilities would help but of course that would mean more money involved. The standard of the coaches is high which is very good. The teams/league need to be more dynamic to be able to compete again with the best in Europe.


What was your most memorable moment while playing for Ferencváros?

My best moments were playing at home in front of the supporters. It is a great place to play your football, the atmosphere is excellent. It is a real football stadium.


And the worst moment while at the club?

I only wish I’d had the opportunity to play for the club earlier in my career and not towards the end. I always enjoyed playing in pressure situations where the atmosphere is intense and the supporters are passionate.


How was living in Budapest?

I enjoyed everything about living in Budapest. Its a beautiful city, so much to do in your leisure time, great places to eat and has a real buzz about it.


Do you miss anything about Hungary?

I do miss living in Budapest. My family talk a lot about living there. The 3 years at the club was one of the best experiences in my career. I miss the passion that surrounds the club.


How did you cope with the language?

I did have lessons to try and learn the language but its very difficult when so many people in the city speak English very well. When you go to restaurants and cafes people speak English so we did not need to use the language that often.


Can you tell us what you are doing these days and would you ever considering being a manager in Hungary?

At the moment I’m Senior Academy Director at Orlando City in the US. I oversee all the boys teams from aged 13-18. Its a position I really enjoy, the club hope to go into the MLS soon, which will be great for everybody here. I would never rule out a return to Hungary though, its a great place to work and the league is getting better all the time. Of course I would consider returning at some point in my career.


Many thanks Paul  for the memories you left us with. We sincerely hope we see you back here one day managing a team in the  first division.