NBI - Round 16 Preview

Written by Paul Treso

Armed with a shot of UNICUM to help my month long sore throat, this is my first post and maybe last depending on the editor..   NOTE:  Please if you see American or Hungarian football, wear warm clothes, yell when appropriate but, and this is a big BUT, “Do not go to Karaoke afterwards”.  If you do sing, do so within your range.  George Michael has a high, special voice to sing and I do not have it.  Is it Christmas yet, thank goodness no?   So why did I sing “Last Christmas”? Probably because it was a DIVE BAR but it shot my voice so here I am in written form.

WARNING:  These predictions are gut feelings, no research such as the great Chris Barrett, and don’t use this to become rich. It won't happen as Hungarian soccer is like a box a chocolates, you never ever never “know what you are going to get.”

Balmazújváros–Haladas, Balmazújváros, Városi Stadion

Ferenc Horvath is a persistent and good manager.   He was given a raw deal at Videoton but which manager has not been given a bad deal there> Another new foreign manager in Hungary.  Welcome Michal Hipp who has a decent resume or CV as they say.  Why not make Gabor Kiraly a player-manager?

No idea what to expect in this game.  So the easy choice then is...

1-1

Paks–Ferencvaros, Paks, Városi Stadion

The battle of the green teams.  Paks are very tough at home.  I have to praise Thomas Doll for having FTC playing better football lately.  That was a bit difficult as I have not praised Doll much.  Csertoi gets every ounce of skill from his players which often times isn’t much to begin with sadly.  Doll could use this skill.

With that sad, a very difficult game to call.  So rather than making the easy choice, it is a rare Paks defeat at home.

1-2 Ferencvaros.

Mezőkövesd–Vasas, Mezőkövesd, Városi Stadion

Wow a manager change  for Mezokovesd  made  on my Hungarian’s aunt’s birthday.  I will miss Miklos the prior coach and his cool Slovakian Hungarian accent.  He was a good coach with a bad team  Place  him on FTC and he maximizes their potential.  Put Doll in his place and Doll have been fired much sooner than Miklos.

Welcome Kuttor Attila to NB1 football, hope it’s not just a half season for your sake and no sack.

Vasas has a great manager  who plays the kids and gets what football is all about.

With that said, Mezo make it a game for 60 minutes, then all hell breaks loose and Vasas  go crazy.

1-3 Vasas

PAFC–DVTK,  Felcsút, Pancho Aréna

Pinter is not a bad Hungarian NB1 coach. It’s his level.  But Tamas Bodog is what  Hungarian soccer needs.  An honest coach who is direct and blunt in his assessment of players.  His experience playing and coaching abroad make him a future coaching star. Beautiful empty Pancho arena will not help the home team.

SIDE BAR, a little town I work in Dos Palos (two poles), California  has a good restaurant named Pancho’s.  I went there in  August and  thanks to the menu  found that Pancho= Ferenc in Spanish. I’m sure many of you knew this long ago but it just hit me then.  Why couldn’t I figure out that Puskas played in Real Madrid so Pancho was a natural easy nickname?

Tough game in battle of the minds.  Depends which team come to play.

1-1 as bad weather decreases goals and skill of play, which can’t  get any lower in NB1, can it?  We shall see...

THE TV GAMES

DVSC–Videoton(Tv: M4 Sport),   Debrecen, Nagyerdei Stadion

What a difference a good coach makes.  Who would have thought Debrecen would be in the top 3?  If you did please stand up.  Yes nobody not even DVSC fans.  Masterful job by András Herczeg.

Videoton has the better, inconsistent team.  They draw in Belgrad get embarrassed in Felcsut.  Sorry old wounds…

In this game the Hungarian heart makes the difference along with  the home fans.

2-1 DVSC

Újpest– Honvéd (Tv: M4 Sport) Budapest, Szusza Ferenc Stadion

Should be fun match but depending on the weather in Pest who knows?  If games ended at 70 minutes UTE would be in 1st place, but we all know football games last 90 plus minutes.

Both teams have quality coaches  even if teams are inconsistent.  Coaches don’t play games they set the game plan, try to adjust but in the end they can’t kick the bal.

Tough game at Ujpest.  Flip a coin on this one.  1-2 Honved but could easily flip a 2 forint coin and make it 2-1

1-2 is my coin flip.

 


The Mighty Magyars' Alternative History

Tomasz Mortimer takes you through a fictionised history of what might have happened to Hungarian football had the Hungarian revolution not gone the way it had. The fiction starts from 1956...

1952: Olympics

The journey started in 1952. National team coach Gustav Sebes had set up a scouting network which scoured the country for the best talent available ahead of the upcoming Olympics in Helsinki, Finland. Different tactics were tried and tested, but thanks to the pioneering methods of Englishman Jimmy Hogan, almost 40 years earlier, Hungary already knew the way they were going to play.

Their system was completely different to anything that had ever been seen before, and their fluidity, both with and without the ball, confounded everyone they came up against. For the most part, the stars of the team hailed from Budapest Honved, the dominant club in Hungary's top tier. There was Zoltán Czibor, Ferenc Puskás and Sándor Kocsis, with other superb talents like Nándor Hidegkuti thrown in for good measure. Hungary easily beat Italy 3-0, Turkey 7-1 and Sweden 6-0 before coming up against friendly rivals Yugoslavia in the Olympic Final.

The Magyars won it at a canter, with the 2-0 score very flattering to the Slavs. The Hungarians were happy just to return home with gold medals, however – much to the delight of friends, family, and an adoring public. The world had been given their first glimpse of the ‘Mighty Magyars’. Much more was to come.

1953: 'Match of the Century'

A year later, Hungary lined up against England at Wembley, on a cold November night. Since the formation of the FA, England had been comfortable in its superiority with regards to the game it invented. Its governors saw no need to become too involved in any football affairs beyond the home nations. Nor did the FA or club chairmen see any need to evolve our basic tactics or training methods.

Their position as founders would carry them through any challenge. As a result, innovative thinkers, such as Jimmy Hogan, were more welcome in the cafes of Budapest and Vienna than they were at the local pub. The Three Lions had never been beaten at Wembley by a foreign team, but nothing lasts forever. Sebes’ men relished the chance of becoming the first visitors to come away from the cradle of the game as victors.

Kenneth Wolstenholme - BBC Sports Commentator 1953:
14.14: England, then, defending the goal to our right, and now there's an exhibition of ball control. Just look at that from the inside left, Puskas. Well, we see a great deal of that, I think we're gonna have an awful lot of trouble holding these unbeaten Hungarians. Lined up in their usual formation, with a front five of Budai, Kocsis, Hidegkuti, Puskás and Czibor.

14.15: Well, everybody has always said, these continentals can't shoot, but if that's a sample of what we're going to have this afternoon, then England are going to be in dire trouble. 1-0 after 45 seconds, then, for Hungary.

14.54: And that was Puskas, the inside left and captain, who scored that one, and my goodness, if he can turn on tricks like this, we ought to have him on the music hall. I've never seen such tremendous ball control as that exhibition of that back-heel and the quick shot. 3-1, then, for Hungary.

14.57: Well, before the game, everybody was telling me that it was a lot of ballyhoo about these Hungarians, England would win. Well, here we are, 27 minutes gone, 4-1 down.

15.36: They seem to play football as the Harlem Globetrotters play basketball, this Hungarian side.

16.02: So that’s it. Six goals to three, all the goals coming within the hour. An expectant crowd of over 100,000 has been shell-shocked today. England looked to be rallying when Mortensen got the score to 42 but Puskas, the Galloping Major they call him, and I can see why, pranced through the England defence all afternoon, and Hidegkuti scored three. England’s long and illustrious home unbeaten run against non-UK opposition has come to a sudden end. These Mighty Magyars have sent shivers down the spines of so many footballing nations here.

1954: World Cup

Hungary went into the Swiss World Cup as massive favourites. They were on a 31-game unbeaten run which stretched back all the way to 1950. This included wins over Italy, East Germany and Austria among many other nations, and they had just beaten England 7-1 in their last warm-up game before the finals.

After cruising through a group including West Germany (8-3) and South Korea (9-0), the Magyars proceeded to beat both Brazil and Uruguay by four goals to two (the latter after extra time), to set up a rematch with West Germany in the final.

On 4 July 1954, under heavy rain, the stage was set. After taking a knock in the first game against the West Germans, Puskás was not quite fully fit, but Sebes decided to field his star man nonetheless. The decision looked justified as Puskás put Hungary ahead after just six minutes. When Zoltán Czibor added the second goal two minutes later the favourites seemed destined to ease to victory - just as they had in the group stage - and thus take the trophy.

However, West Germany would not lie down, and quick-fire goals from Max Morlock and Helmut Rahn had them level. Hungary were stunned but managed to reach half time at 2–2, both teams having missed several promising chances to take the lead. The second half continued where the first had left off, with both teams were pouring forward, desperately trying to nab a goal to no avail – until, with six minutes remaining, disaster struck for Hungary.

Rahn reached the ball 20 yards from goal, deceived the Hungarian defender by feigning a right-foot shot and scored with his weaker left. An equaliser from the supposedly under the weather Puskás was ruled offside by the Welsh linesman. It all seemed unreal for Hungary. Puskás’ goal wasn’t offside and they should even have had a penalty in the last second, but at the end of the day Hungary’s unbeaten run had come to an abrupt end in one of the biggest upsets in the history of football.

It would be difficult for the Mighty Magyars to bounce back from such an emotional defeat and two years down the line, the side had fallen into disarray. In the summer of 1956 Sebes was sacked, and then came an event which could have ended Hungary’s footballing system altogether.

1956: Revolution

The stunning success of the Hungarian revolution was pivotal to the nation’s footballing revival. Under communist rule, Hungarian football had flourished but just prior to independence, Magyar Foci was on the decline. The players were being treated like second-class citizens. Sebes was first undermined by the government and then removed when results went against him.

Hungary fell into Russian hands at the end of the War. The USSR took every penny that Hungary had and managed Budapest’s affairs from Moscow. In 1953, when Joseph Stalin died, the people of Hungary were given some hope that they might be free from Soviet rule. Alas, life only became worse for Hungarians as the new Soviet Premier, Nikita Khruschev, turned the screw.

Many Hungarians were out of pocket, barely able to survive. On 23 October 1956 students and workers took to the streets of Budapest and issued their Sixteen Points, which included personal freedom, more food, the removal of the secret police, and the removal of Russian control.

At first, Kruschev was content to let the protest be handled by local authorities. Within a fortnight, it became apparent that the movement was gaining momentum and Budapest might fall. Russian forces mobilised. Amazingly, students and tradesmen in both Czechoslovakia and Poland, the latter dissatisfied with Moscow’s interpretation of the Warsaw Pact, launched protests in support of their Hungarian brethren.

Kruschev suddenly had brushfires to put out in three cities. Then the supposedly non-aligned Marshal Tito took a hand, offering encouraging words and calling on western countries to offer support. Kruschev, unfazed, simply called up reinforcements. England and the US were content to stay out of the fray. Not only were the Soviets now also a nuclear power, but the US would look foolish, to say the least, if they condemned Soviet intervention in Hungary while supporting British and French intervention in the ongoing Suez crisis.

In London, however, ex-Prime Minister Winston Churchill was meeting with former US President Harry S. Truman. Very much against the wishes of their governments, the two somehow managed to fly into Budapest. Once there, the pair announced their presence to the press and on the radio, insisting that they would not leave until Kruschev himself arrived to negotiate a peaceful end to the uprising. Suddenly, with two of its iconic leaders in the thick of the uprising, NATO was intensely interested in the fate of Hungary.

With grudging Soviet permission, NATO emissaries arrived in Budapest to escort Churchill and Truman to safety. The old men refused to depart, insisting upon negotiating a lasting peace and an independent Hungary. A month-long stalemate ensued, with Yugoslavia’s Marshall Tito, long a thorn in the side of Moscow, volunteering, as a neutral party, to airlift supplies into the besieged city. Kruschev was incensed at the cheek of Tito but, with Truman and Churchill on the ground, he was unable to refuse without sparking another war. With the frightening spectre of nuclear conflict the likely result, neither side was willing to fire the first shot.

Finally, with no other alternative, Kruschev arrived to negotiate. The talks lasted another month but when all was said and done, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Yugoslavia each signed new non-aggression and mutual defence treaties with both the Soviet Union and NATO. Under the Budapest Accord, which usurped the more Soviet-biased Warsaw Pact, the Eastern European Union was founded, with the four nations forming an economic partnership, which Romania, Albania and, finally East Germany joined.

The EEU served as a buffer between the democracies of the West and the totalitarian USSR. The twin mutual defence pacts kept either side from encroaching on the fledgling states, enabling them to develop in a peaceful, if tense, environment. When the East Germans joined the Budapest Accord in 1958, Bonn was unhappy, as it prevented re-unification, and NATO and the Soviets were upset that they were politely but firmly asked to leave Berlin.

In 1959, Churchill and Truman, the man who dropped the first atomic bomb, were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Ten years, later, the EEU was a thriving industrial bloc and the Mighty Magyars, who were on the brink of oblivion, along with the rest of Hungary, were once again the dominant force in football.

While Churchill, Truman and eventual Hungarian President Imre Nagy were negotiating with Kruschev, most of the Hungary players were stranded in Spain, being in Bilbao with Honvéd for a European Cup match. Fearing for their lives, they were reluctant to immediately return home. Left in limbo for weeks as the Russians and Hungarians negotiated, Honvéd lost the tie, 6-5 on aggregate, having to play the return leg in Heysel.

Finally, the Russian troops and officials withdrew. The players could fly home, be with their families and play for the national team, once more. The whole episode couldn’t have gone much better for Hungary. It lifted their morale, not just socially, but in football terms too, which most Hungarians lived for.

Sebes was back in charge and the 1958 World Cup was in their sights. Could they rebuild in such a short time and banish the memories from the Nightmare of Bern?

1958: World Cup

Hungary entered the 1958 World Cup in stark contrast to their previous World Cup campaign. They were no longer favourites for the tournament, no longer a communist country, and had the best team in the world to compete against, in Brazil. Nevertheless, Hungary’s squad wasn’t too depleted for the tournament and heroes from the Olympic side of ’52, Puskás, Czibor and Kocsis were all there to participate alongside greats like Hidegkuti, Gyula Grosics, and László Budai.

The Magyars were in a group with Mexico, Wales and hosts Sweden. On paper, it seemed a simple prospect but the hurried preparations after political reformation had made everyone nervous. Hungary only played one warm-up game before the tournament, against a poor Finnish side, whom they managed to beat 2-1. The performance was well below what was usually expected of them and the oddsmakers were unimpressed, making the Magyars longshots to win, at 11-1. After the Finnish result, the Hungarian FA panicked and reinstated Sebes.

As fate would have it, the move turned out to be a stroke of genius. Reunited with their mentor, the squad suddenly looked like themselves again, defeating Wales (2-1) and Mexico (4-0) before drawing to a fierce Swedish side determined to defend their home ground in front of a watching world.

In the quarter-final, Hungary drew their former occupiers, the Soviet Union. The match was a reflection of the Budapest Accord, with the Magyars flexing their independent muscle and the Soviets looking hesitant and unsure. At halftime, tensions boiled over, with the two sides brawling on their way to the dressing room. Each side received two red cards but luckily for the Magyars both of theirs were incurred by reserves. When the two sides returned, the Russians were refusing to take the pitch, down two men. Sebes huddled with the match officials and FIFA president Arthur Drewry and sportingly agreed to play with just nine men. The match resumed and the more skilled Magyars used the extra space to effect, scoring twice to claim a 2-0 victory.

Hungary then defeated old foes West Germany (3-1), which went some way to avenging their loss in Berne. This set up a tie against the best team in the World: Brazil. The Brazil side looked incredibly strong on paper – but so did Hungary’s – and importantly, the Magyars had gained in confidence as the campaign had progressed.

Gustáv Sebes interviewed by Imre Oláh for Nemzeti Sport on 6 July 1958:
IO: Congratulations on your 2-1 victory Gusztáv. How did the players feel going into their second World Cup Final in a row?

GS: Many of the players felt a lot more nervous than last time actually. You could see in their faces just before kick-off that they were thinking of the game four years ago, and it was up to me to lift the spirits in the dressing room. I started to talk about how we convincingly beat the World Champions in the semifinal, and all the other fantastic performances throughout the tournament. I’d like to think it really fired them up.

IO: What did you say to the players at half-time when you were leading by a goal to nil?

GS: Again, I had to make the players believe in themselves so I just told them to carry on playing their game, and if they did that they’d win the game. I was obviously nervous about some of the individual talent that Brazil had out there, like Pele and Garrincha, but I really believed my boys would bring the trophy home.

IO: Explain your emotions when Zagallo equalised in the last minute for Brazil.

GS: I was shell-shocked. After everything that we had come through to get to this point, I thought that the Football Gods had at last smiled upon us but, going into extra time, I had to tell the boys to carry on believing. I believed that one goal, if we could find it, would be enough and thankfully it was.

IO: It was a fine winner from Puskás. In your view, is he the best players who’s every played the game?

GS: Without question. The boy can do things the likes of which I’ve never seen before. He’s transformed the game into a modern age, almost on his own. He can do anything, dribble past defenders, score from range, pass, cross. He’s the perfect player – and a great friend. Even so, he’ll be the first to tell you to keep an eye on that young Brazilian, Pele. 

Hundreds of thousands converged on Budapest to celebrate the players’ incredible achievement. It was not just a win for football, but it was a win for freedom.

1959-61: Honvéd Times

Honvéd struggled to make as much of an impact in the newly formed European Cup following the Hungarian Revolution, only managing the quarter-final on two occasions andthe last-16 on another. But with a team full of players fresh from their World Cup victory, it wasn’t going to be long before they made their mark.

In a bold move Honved replaced their coach with the great Jimmy Hogan, who had by then reached the grand old age of 77. There was a lot of excitement about the appointment of the former MTK Budapest boss, but also a lot of scepticism: was he too old for the job? Could he work his magic on a new generation of footballers? These questions were dismissed by the majority though; Hogan had already been credited with the football revolution which lead to the Hungarians demolishing England 6-3 at Wembley, so if this was anything to go by success was sure to come.

And success did come. 1958/59 was the start of Honvéd’s three-year continental dominance. They began the campaign with a tricky visit to Polish champions Polonia Bytom, who they comfortably beat 6-1 over two legs, before the competition really started to hot up.

They were pitted against the title-holders from England, Wolverhampton Wanderers, and lost the first leg at Molineux 3-2, thanks to a hat-trick from Peter Broadbent. The second leg was built up as the ‘Game of the Decade’, but it sadly didn’t live up to the hype. Honvéd strolled the first half, and were 3-0 up after just 20 minutes thanks to goals from Kocsis and Puskás. The second half didn’t get any better for Wolves, who were duly thrashed 6-0.

The quarter-final was even easier for Honvéd: they beat Standard Liege 72 on aggregate. Only Stade de Reims stood in their way. Once again, however, they walked over their opposition, winning 2-0 in France and 3-1 back in Budapest.

The final was to be a much harder task. Honvéd were up against the reigning European champions, Real Madrid. While Honved teetered on the brink of obscurity, the Spaniards had won the European Cup in the first three years of its existence, but they had not had an easy route to the final this time. They squeezed past local rivals Atletico Madrid in their semi-final – a play-off was required after their two-legged tie ended 2-2. Real won 2-1.

Honved would go on to lose the first leg at the Bernabeu by two goals to nil, but the second leg would turn out to be a thriller.

Kenneth Wolstenholme - BBC Sports Commentator 1959:
17.45: Three goals to one Real Madrid lead at the interval then, worth their lead. Their English coach, Honvéd’s English coach, Jimmy Hogan, will have a hard task getting his team back into this one. Very, very tall order now for the Hungarians.

18.05: They’ve really come out of the blocks like Bobby Joe Morrow, and they’re deservedly level at 3-3. That goal from Budai and the two from Puskás, the second from a free kick, have all been top drawer, really perfect. They were calling this the ‘Game of the Decade’ and it’s living up to the billing this time, unlike their tie against Wolverhampton Wanderers, in the, earlier in the tournament.

18.34: Mateos scores, and that’s his second of the game and Real Madrid’s fourth. Do the Hungarians have any punch left in them?

18.40: Puskás with his head, and it’s in, they’re level, 85 minutes played and we’re all square, 4-4! What a player this fellow is, three goals from him, what a time to score.

18.44: Honved not sure what to do here, waiting for someone to move into position. It’s thrown in. Kocsis, still Kocsis, and it’s there! Kocsis has scored, and surely won the game for Honvéd! All his own work, Kocsis, left foot, through the goalkeeper, 5-4. Wonderful play from the inside forward, Stanley Matthews would have been proud of that play. Genius!

Honvéd had well and truly broken Read Madrid’s spell, and with a side that included Puskás, Kocsis, Czibor, József Bozsik, László Budai, Gyula Lóránt and the national team goalkeeper, Grosics, they won another two European Cups, matching Di Stefano and co.’s record.

In 1959/60, Hogan gracefully and gratefully retired and Károly Sós, pried away from rivals Ferencváros, took over. Honvéd didn’t miss a step, thrashing Eintracht Frankfurt, 7-3, in the final, with four goals coming from the talismanic Puskás. The hat-trick of titles was completed, fittingly, against Real Madrid in 1960, this time by a more comfortable 4-1 scoreline.

1962: World Cup

As the 1962 World Cup approached the Mighty Magyars were an ageing side, and arguably weren’t quite at the peak of their powers, yet still boasted class acts from the great Honvéd side such as Puskás, Kocsis and Czibor. They also included some new names, like the highly talented Flórián Albert and 22-year-old Ernő Solymosi.

The Magyars went to Chile with a lot of optimism and were looking to become just the second nation to win back-to-back World titles, after the great Italian side of the 1930s. Yet no European side had yet won one the Jules Rimet on South American soil. The players arrived in South America a month before the tournament was due to begin, which gave them a long time to prepare, bond and get used to the conditions which the unfamiliar continent had to throw at them.

They scheduled warm-up games against both club and international sides. Things didn’t begin well though, as they lost their first two preparation matches. A Pelé-inspired Santos beat them 3-1, and they also fell to another Brazilian team, Sao Paulo, 4-3.

The team gradually started to gel though, as they beat Argentinean opponents Estudiantes and River Plate 2-0 and 5-1 respectively. As the team moved on to Chile, confidence was brewing within the Magyar camp and they were greeted by a rapturous reception as they arrived in Santiago. The Chilean fans appreciate good football, which was clear to see as the fans lined the streets to welcome the Hungarians into their country.

Ferenc Puskás interviewed by David Coleman on 8th May 1962:
FP: We played OK but lost twice [in Brazil]. Now we are getting used to the weather here, the food, the pitches. Now we win our next two, so people start to talk about us again. We don’t worry too much about the scores at the moment, so I won’t make a prediction. And for me, personally, I am scoring so I am happy.

DC: You’re always scoring. What’s the secret?

FP: There is no secret. 

DC: How have you enjoyed your time in South America so far?

FP: Very good. Here, it has been unbelievable. These people [the Chileans] treat us like we have just saved the world from disease and famine. We are greeted as heroes, not football players.

DC: And how do you think your team’s chances in the tournament, can you emulate the Italian team of the ‘30s and claim back-to-back World Cup wins?

FP: I don’t make promises, but all I say is we are playing well and we are experienced. We have been in the last two finals and lucky enough to win one, but there are a lot of good teams this year. I am just glad we are free to play football – if we win, then all the better.

The first game in Chile was special, as more than 50,000 fans flocked to see Colo Colo take on the Hungarians. The visitors ran out comfortable 9-2 winners, with Puskás predictably scoring six on his own.

Not worried by the result, the Chilean fans continued their goodwill and Hungary left the field to a standing ovation. If their competitors didn’t know it before, they now knew the Mighty Magyars meant business.

They then moved on to beat Everton (of Chile), prior to defeating the national sides of Venezuela, Japan and the USA, before the real event began at the end of May. Many of the pundits had tipped Brazil to secure their first world title. They had a great side, including Garrincha, Pelé, Vavá and Amarildo – plus, like Hungary, the backing of the Chilean crowds. They could also claim some form of home advantage, being familiar with the continent, and this would give them an edge over the European contenders.

Hungary cruised through the group stage defeating England, Argentina and Bulgaria, before knocking out Czechoslovakia in the quarter-final. They defeated Yugoslavia 4-1 in the semi-final thanks to braces from Lajos Tichy and Albert, which set the final everyone wanted (not least the Chilean fans) – a tasty affair with Brazil.

With Puskás failing to recover from an injury sustained against the Czechs, the Hungarians’ task looked a tricky one indeed. They may have been expecting a good level of support from the Chilean crowd after their amorous welcome a few weeks ago, but the fans inside the Estadio Nacional gave their full backing to Brazil, who had been even more rampant than the Magyars on their way to the final.

Almost 70,000 people were to be disappointed though. Albert opened the scoring for Hungary inside of a minute, before Solymosi added a second just two minutes later. Suddenly, the match was being played in a vast canyon rather than a stifling cauldron. Coming out in the second half, the crowd tried recovered some of its voice and attempted to carry the Brazilians back into the match.

One man, especially, picked up the banner for the Brazilians. Young Pele, now twenty-one, showed the world that Puskas was not the only footballer who could take over a match. Time and again, he made inroads into the Magyar box but Hungary keeper Grosics held the game scoreless for almost the entire half.

Finally, in the eighty-seventh minute, Pele broke through, literally. Shouldering off three defenders he weaved into the box and, leaning to his left, sent the ball off the outside of his right foot, deceiving Grosics and bringing the Selecao to within one. Three minutes into stoppage time, he was in clear again on a perfect through ball and buried his chance, only for his joy to turn to despair upon seeing the linesman’s flag raised high in the air. The Brazilians surrounded the match official, ironically a Soviet, but to no avail. The call stood and, as the Magyars felt they had been wronged eight years earlier, in Bern, it was now the Brazilian’s turn.

Hungary, not without controversy, had conquered the world for the second time in succession. Footage of the play is grainy and one is unable to simultaneously view the ball being released and Pele splitting the defenders, so history will never know whether the goal should have stood. Regardless, Hungary’s run in the finals over those three tournaments remains an unmatched achievement.

The players were greeted in Budapest by thousands lining the streets, signing ‘Ria Ria Hungaria’. The scenes were reminiscent of the victory parade four years before, but this time they had achieved greatness with an unfancied, ageing side.

This proved to the world that the Mighty Magyars should never be written off.

2017: Hungarian football as a strong as ever

Now in 2017, Hungarian football continues to be as strong as ever, and despite their population of just under 10 million, continues to punch well above its weight.

The likes of Honved, Ferencvaros, and MTK continue to be mainstays of the Champions League latter stages, and though only one World Cup win has followed since the halcyon days of the 1950's, Hungary continues to be a force on the international stage, and secured their second European title at Euro 2016 last year.

It's difficult to imagine a universe where Hungary isn't pivotal in the footballing world, though, in retrospect, it could have been oh so different had the 1956 revolution not turned out the way it did.


The Past Was Glorious But Cannot Be Repeated

Paul Treso talks about the ups and downs of being a Hungarian football fan in 2017 after the distant success of the past.

Have you ever met a real, passionate Hungarian?  They are winners. Look at Ferenc Puskas, the Mighty Magyars of the 1950’s, the Men’s Olympics Water Polo teams winning gold medal after Gold medal.  Maybe it’s the difficult language that is like no other? A work ethic and passion, intelligence match by few.

Actors, writers, musicians,  scientists, name most any field and Hungarians have been successful at it. A small country now around 10 million with who knows how many around the world who have left.

One sport remains the National Identity, football. The sport that means a lot to Hungarians. The sport at which for years they were glorious with two World Cup Silvers in 1938 and 1956.  Watch any clip of the 1956 team or even the 1966 team and the style, the Hungarian football fervour, is evident.  Then 1986 happened in Mexico, and the crowds disappeared.

The skills of the “Mighty Magyars” were a once in a lifetime.  Men who didn’t play video games at home, glued to the internet or cell phone, and making tons of money at home in Hungary.  They had skill, passion, and a love of the game.  

Today, Hungarian footballers make a great wage compared to the average Hungarian. They have no need to go abroad to make a name for themselves.  The players have no need to smuggle goodies back to Hungary to sell on the black market.  They have fear and questionable ambition.

The players of the past were “Glorious”. They had the skill, the passion, and no fear. A drive to excel and a love of country and home. Today some players have all of these qualities but why push yourself if you are living high and making money?

The fans long for the glorious past. Even 2016 Euros are now considered a glorious past. The team exceeded all expectations. I was there at the outdoor venues in Hungary, saw the fans wild with National Pride. Hungary was proud and positive.

Now the negativity is back, as Hungarian are accustomed to winning, but not at their national sports. New beautiful stadiums are being built. 

Search forums and the fans like to complain more than praise. This player is not chosen, bad tactics, losing to this country, barely beating this country. Is a 1-0  loss to Portugal a good loss or a bad loss because it wasn’t a win?

I will keep on rooting for Hungary. It is the birthplace of my parents and my heritage. Have they disappointed me? Yes too many times to note. The feeling beating Norway, the opening win to Austria in Euro 2016 make all those bad times good. It is the good that I remember not the failure.

Yes, the past was glorious but cannot be repeated. That many good Hungarian players on a team like the Mighty Magyars will not happen again but in truth, it’s the experience, the small guy vs. the big guy that keeps me rooting for the team and makes me and many others fans Mad Hungarians.

Hungary play Luxembourg on the 9th November at 20:00 CET live on M4


Viktor Orban's Footballing Front Man

Hungarian football and Hungarian politics have become increasingly intertwined since Viktor Orban took office as Prime Minister in 2010, but his relationship with Lorinc Meszaros, the owner of NBI side Puskas Akademia is one of troubling interest. Written by Tomasz Mortimer

At the end of April 2017 in Hungary, Napi.hu published their annual spring rich list. At the top of the list for the fifth year in a row was Sandor Csanyi, the head of the MLSz (the Hungarian FA) and Chairman of OTP Bank - one of Central and Eastern Europe's largest independent financial services and sponsor of Hungarian football’s top tier (NB I).

But the name at number five was the one that claimed all the headlines: Lorinc Meszaros, the Fidesz mayor of Felcsut. According to the data from Napi.hu Meszaros's worth in the past 12 months quintupled from €76m to €385m, leaping from the 31st richest man in Hungary to the 5th. Since 2014, the first year Meszaros appeared on Hungary's 100 richest list, Meszaros's fortune has multiplied by 15.

Meszaros remarked on his ascent up the rich list in 2014 by saying, "That I have been able to reach so far; God, luck and the person of Viktor Orbán have certainly played a role, though I never privatised and I never took anything — I acquired everything through my work and my mind."

Lorinc Meszaros's path has been, and continues to be, a strange one - a path that is perennially linked with football and Hungarian Prime Minister and leader of Fidesz, Viktor Orban.

The pair went to the same elementary school, but were never close. They were first properly acquainted through their football love in Felcsut - the village of 1,800 people where they grew up, where Orban played for local side Felcsut SE, and where Meszaros ran a small gas-fitting company – Meszaros & Meszaros – through the 1990's and 2000's.

Orban's footballing career was far from stellar, but it wasn't bad either. From 1982 to 1988 he played for Medosz-Erdért SE and BEAC in the 4th tier of Hungarian football before coming out of retirement in 1999, after an 11-year hiatus, at the age of 35, whilst Prime Minister, to play intermittently for Felcsut in the 5th and 4th tier until 2005.

Upon retiring from playing football in 2005, Orban - while out of office following Fidesz’s 2002 defeat in the Hungarian General Election - set up the Puskas Ferenc Labdaruga Akademia in Felcsut.

The naming of the academy was contentious, to say the least. Ferenc Puskas, the Hungarian footballing legend, played out his club career in Hungary exclusively at Honved, and it’s fair to assume he would have never visited, nor ever heard of the tiny village of Felcsut. Honved fans were the ones who were particularly unamused at the name, and still 12 years on are vehemently opposed to the academy, and the club itself.

"Orban gave land of his village house in Felcsut to fund the football academy." Freelance sports journalist Gergely Marosi told me. “The facilities of Puskas Akademia are near the area where Felcsut SE, the local football team used to play."

It was two years later when Orban first trusted his friend Lorinc Meszaros with any kind of business responsibility (coincidentally around about the same time Meszaros's gas-fitting company was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy). The first partnership being Puskas Akademia where Meszaros was appointed President of the club’s foundation.

Due to Orban being out of office, and Felcsut being such a tiny village, there was very little fanfare or media attention when the academy was set up, and it wasn’t until 2009 that Puskas Akademia got any real traction. That was when FC Felcsut (as it was rebranded in 2008) were rebranded to, initially, Videoton FC-Puskas Akademia, after an initial partnership with the first division Hungarian side Videoton (the club who Viktor Orban supports).

"With Videoton FC they formed a partnership, so the most talented youngsters could go straight to a top-flight team. Some of the youth teams at both clubs were a mix between Videoton and Puskas Akademia players", says Matyas Szeli from Nemzeti Sport, Hungary’s leading sports newspaper. "The then NB II [Hungary’s 2nd tier] Puskas Akademia was legally independent from Vidi, but in regard of football and professional issues, it was under Videoton's supervision. Videoton also trained a lot at Felcsut."

Videoton, who are based in Szekesfehervar 40 minutes down the road from Felcsut, are owned by Hungarian oligarch Istvan Garancsi who took over in late 2007. Garancsi, according to Napi.hu is Hungary’s 23rd richest man and is another close ally of Viktor Orban’s.

Vidi officially relinquished the partnership in 2012 but still hold very close ties even today; players freely move between the two clubs, and Vidi have currently been playing at Puskas Akademia’s home stadium in Felcsut for the past two seasons while their home is being redeveloped.

“The academy is now maintained by an NGO [non-governmental organisation] founded in 2004,” said Marosi. “The official communication states that the academy's running is funded by donations - and since it came to effect, from the TAO tax return programme.”

Between 2011 and 2014 Hungarian football clubs received $276 million worth of TAO contributions of which 12% went directly to Puskas Akademia. The premise of the TAO tax return programme was to essentially get more people playing the game. This is the wording from the MLSz website:

"The system of corporate tax-breaks for those promoting sport ensures the possibility of attracting substantially greater funds into spectator sports, football included. The aim is for as many amateur footballers as possible to play the world’s most popular game in the best circumstances possible.

"As per the plans of the Hungarian Football Federation and as a result of this financial backing, more and more are beginning to play football, which in the long term can lead to football becoming more successful. Numerous clubs, thanks to the resources brought in via the TAO programme, should in the future be able to stand on their own feet financially."

Though since it passed through parliament in 2011, the legislation has faced some fierce criticism, not least because since 2016 the information related to contributions made through the TAO program now constitutes as 'tax secrets', and are therefore not publicly viewable.

In 2015, a non-governmental organisation called, ‘Transparency International Hungary’ (one of the organisations that Orban has been consistently hounding in recent months) issued a report which warned against serious corruption risks that were presented through the TAO contribution system. The suspicion raised by Transparency International was that the "contributions may be made to sports clubs tied to politicians in exchange for the donor being awarded lucrative public procurements."

There is no reason to suggest that all the money that goes in to the club goes straight back out again, but the money spent on grassroots and the academy is questionable.

In 2012, at the cost of $14m, Puskas Akademia had a beautiful stadium built right next to Orban’s home in Felcsut called the Pancho Arena (Pancho was Ferenc Puskas’s nickname in Spain), which has since gone on to win awards for its architecture. When the stadium was built, the Prime Minister’s spokesman remarked, "on Monday [the day the stadium opened] the change of regime of Hungarian football will begin."

Meanwhile on the pitch, Puskas Akademia’s financial might is starting to show despite spending the 2016/17 season in NB II. Daniel Prosser (one of Honved’s shining lights in their NB I title win), Peter Szakaly (Debrecen’s captain), and Gabor Gyomber (Ferencvaros’ captain) were all prized away in January, while Vilmos Vanczak (who has 79 caps for Hungary) and Sandor Gyorgy (who shone at Perth Glory the season before) signed last summer.

Former Gyor and Ferencvaros manager Attila Pinter, who had a brief spell in charge of the Hungarian national team in 2014, was also lured to Felcsut from NB I side Mezokovesd in January, and secured the NB II title, and safe passage back into Hungary’s top tier in May.

Puskas are sure to be a contender in the top tier this season with such an experienced squad, and they’ve already set out their ambition for the new season by signing Attila Osvath from Vasas and Ulysse Diallo from Pinter’s former club Mezokovesd. But the two signings from Ujpest - Jonathan Heris and Balazs Balogh - two of Ujpest’s best players, made the bigger headlines.

Balazs Balogh said to Nemzeti Sport, "At the beginning of pre-season Nebojsa Vignjevics [Ujpest manager] said it is time for a change, he did not explain why, but he said it’d be better if I left. I did not understand. At first, I thought I replied with a convincing argument of why I wanted to stay: I’ve reached two cup finals with Lilak, I am very motivated to stay here, and this is not something everyone can say. Then Nebojsa called the owner, Mr. Roderick Duchatelet, and he said the same thing as the coach: it’s time for a change here. He added, I received offers, but I would be happy if you went to Felcsut."

Despite considerably strengthening their first team, it’s not entirely visible that Puskas Akademia are feeling the effects of the academy system on or off the pitch, despite the time and money that has been spent on the project.

The Puskas academy already has a fairly decent alumnus including the likes of Laszlo Kleinheisler at Astana, Roland Sallai formely of Palermo, and Matyas Tajti at Malaga, but the academy itself was ranked as the 6th best academy in Hungary in 2016, and in the most prestigious youth league in Hungary, Puskas U19s finished 7th this season.

"Well, my personal opinion is that there has been a focus shift and an identity problem, which is unfortunate," said Gergely Marosi. "The original plan was to base the club on the academy products. Their infrastructure was a major attraction for youngsters. Instead of this Puskas Akademia has a huge number of experienced NB I players in the team, Attila Pinter on the bench - he's known for favouring experienced players - and most academy graduates on the bench. Usually there are only one to three of them playing.

"I'd like to see them re-focusing on youth, because I believe with the funding and infrastructure they have, that would be much more useful for Hungarian football."

But Puskas Akademia isn’t Lorinc Meszaros’ only unusual venture into football. In January 2016, in a move that shocked many, Meszaros purchased NK Osijek in the Prva HNL (Croatian top tier) who are based in the fourth largest city in Croatia, home to around a negligible 500 ethnic Hungarians.

Osijek finished 4th in the league last season, their highest standing since 2008, and are expected to push on again next year. The Bijelo-plavi faithful have been fairly encouraged by what’s happened at the club so far, especially as the club were struggling with financial difficulties before Meszaros took over.

"For now, the fans are just happy because the team is competitive," Alex Holiga, chief editor of Telesport told me. "There wasn’t much of a reaction when Meszaros took over. The fans were left confused when suddenly the club's official website started publishing news items in Hungarian alongside those in Croatian, but the club soon realised it doesn't make much sense so they dropped the idea.

"The fans are mostly hoping the infrastructure will be improved before the Hungarians leave, which everyone expects to happen at some point when Orban loses power."

Since taking over the club, Meszaros already has spent $300,000 on the academy, and is likely to spend over $3.5m on a new stadium. He’s also spent significantly on players, at least compared to the past, forking out $500,000 on Muzafer Ejupi and $300,000 on Gabrijel Boban from league rivals Slaven Belupo and NK Zagreb respectively. They also loaned Dmytro Lepa from Puskas Akademia with Antonio Perosevic going the other way, which is likely to transpire more and more in the coming years.

Meszaros & Meszaros have become the main shirt sponsor of the club while Hungarian companies favoured by the Orban government also support Osijek such as: TRSZ, Duna Aszfalt, Magyar Epito, and West Hungária Bau. A short time after Meszaros purchased the club he said quite frankly, "the price for Croat and Serb players in the football market is a great deal higher than for those from Hungary."

Many oligarchs and businessman in Eastern Europe and the Baltic Region have tried to make a quick buck on football clubs, but have almost always come up empty, so it’s unlikely Meszaros would be using Osijek to build his financial might.

There could however, be clear advantages for Hungarian football. The best prospects from the academy, and the best players in the senior side at Osijek may end up at Puskas Akademia, and Meszaros could be using Osijek in the same way that Red Bull use Salzburg to feed Leipzig, but the waters seem murkier than that.

"In Hungary, it’s worth investing in football not only because of all the state subsidies but also because it’s a good way to build political connections," says Zsuzsanna Wirth from Hungarian political investigative website Direkt36. "It’s not clear why Mészáros is investing in football in Croatia but maybe this is a way for him to lay the groundwork for his future investments in the country. He already owns the Croatian company Mirno More d.o.o."

For Osijek, it’s quite uncertain just how the future looks. The fans are sceptical, but for now, Meszaros, using the corporate tax benefit from Hungary, is spending lavishly on the future of the club, which can only be seen as a good thing for Bijelo-plavi.

However, when you look away from Lorinc Meszaros’ football dealings, everything looks that bit more disturbing.

"Meszaros first properly attracted my full attention in early 2012 but mostly because of his land grabbing in the land lease program in which he and his family eventually received 200 hectares." says Hungarian historian Eva Balogh and owner of the website HungarianSpectrum.org. "By August 2013 I was already explaining to my readers what ‘stroman’ [stooge] means in English. At that time, the mainstream media, like Origo, already had a long article about the strange ‘luck’ of Mészáros."

As of July 2017, Meszaros is said to be involved with over 90 businesses across Hungary (an increase of 88 since Fidesz got to power in 2010), and owns over 200 television and media outlets including the likes of Nemzeti Sport, Népszabadság (formerly Hungary’s biggest opposition paper), and all the regional newspapers in 12 of Hungary’s 19 counties.

Meszaros’ main business, the gas-fitting company Meszaros & Meszaros, recorded $75m in revenue in 2015, up from just over $3,000 in 2010. Much of the company’s revenue comes from state projects, and in 2015, the company won over $130m worth of state tenders.

This pattern continues with the majority of the companies he owns: in 2016 alone, at least $800m worth of state tenders were awarded to Meszaros’ businesses, and 99% of the state projects that Meszaros has won have been funded by the European Union.

"Using middlemen is the only way of getting a good portion of the EU monies," says Eva Balogh. "His oligarchs overprice the services and, I assume, a certain amount of the money must go back to Orban / Fidesz. This is how this arrangement works."

Once a project is completed, any profits are often fully withdrawn. While the tender-related public databases are pretty opaque, and therefore figures are difficult to get hold of, in early 2017 Direkt36 found some information on a sewage system company which Orban’s family owns:

"In 2013, they gained only 15% of profit on their total revenue of 2.7 billion forints [$9.6m]," it says on Direkt36’s site. "Their profit increased to 30% on 5.2 billion forints [$18.6m] of revenue by 2015. The profit gained during these three years was fully withdrawn from the companies. After deducting the share of the partners, Orbán’s family members received nearly 2 billion forints [$7.1m] in dividends."

How often this happens it’s hard to say, but it seems that Orban has chosen to use a middlemen like Meszaros instead of using family members.

"Not too many Hungarians would argue with you if you asked if Meszaros was Orban’s stroman," says Balogh. "It is hard to imagine otherwise. I suspect, Meszaros is not the only one, but he is definitely the most trusted. He will never contest the arrangement and it is unlikely that he will ever turn against him because Mészáros is utterly dependent on Orban."

Meszaros’ success is symptomatic of a wider problem within Hungarian society, and it’s believed that there are currently dozens of middle men sucking the money out of public funds.

"I wouldn’t say they’re necessarily pawns, but affiliated businessmen must know who their friends are," says Zoltan Szecsi from Politics.hu. "They come and go like Zsolt Nyerges, mainly involved in road building - he keeps a lower profile now. Zoltan Speder, head of FHB Bank and property tycoon fell from grace last year. Istvan Tiborcz, Orbán's son-in-law is a busy bee too, though he’s been trying to cover up his businesses a bit more recently. Plus, Istvan Garancsi, the owner of Videoton FC, but it seems that Orban trusts Meszaros the most, because he made him."

Orban has been questioned in parliament about Meszaros but brushed off a question from Gabor Vona, the leader of opposition party Jobbik, saying, "I have never had a front man of any kind, nor will I ever."

A far-right nationalist party, Jobbik describe themselves as, "a principled, conservative and radically patriotic Christian party," but have been described by certain parts of the media as a "neo-Nazi" and an "antisemitic organisation."

Jobbik are increasingly becoming the most likely party that might be able to overcome the Orban government. With the left in Hungary so fragmented and disorganised, and Orban’s political strategy over refugee quotas working so effectively; Jobbik have capitalised upon this, and are beginning to ask some serious questions over Fidesz’s corruption scandals.

"All my sympathies are with Jobbik," says the oligarch Lajos Simicska, who provided a lot of the money to Fidesz in its formative years before later falling out with Orbán in 2014. "This is a stinking criminal gang that must go."

Jobbik have plastered anti-Fidesz billboards across the country with the slogan, "You work. They steal," and as a country, despite Fidesz’s stranglehold over a huge percentage of the media, the people are getting restless. Orban’s popularity has fallen from 49% to 40% between January and April 2017, surveys show that 67% of Hungarians believe their government is corrupt, and the country has seen protests with numbers reaching 80,000 for weeks on end in Budapest and across Hungary.

"People have lost trust in politics," said Andras Fekete-Gyor, the leader of the liberal, anti-Orban group Momentum. "People are completely unsatisfied with their future prospects."

The Fidesz government passed a law through parliament in June to tighten regulations on political billboard advertising, while Orban dismissed the protests by saying it’s the work of Hungarian - American billionaire George Soros who was paying activists and flying them in to Budapest to bulk the numbers.

Soros has been on the end of a relentless ire from Orban for nearly two years now ever since the ‘Refugee Crisis’ in 2015, but that anger has been ramped up in the last few months. The Hungarian PM has effectively gone to verbal war with the philanthropist accusing him of running a "vast mafia network," and remarked that he was a "threat to Europe’s peace" as migration is "good business for Soros."

Orban has also lashed out at the NGO’s in Hungary, especially those that are funded in part by Soros including the world class Central European University based in Budapest whose future in the Hungarian capital now looks very uncertain.

The European Union took action against the Hungarian government over the CEU scandal, and with Orban’s incessant belligerence over migration policies increasingly exasperating those in Brussels, it’ll be interesting to see how they deal with such large amounts of EU money going into the hands of Fidesz’s officials and friends.

With Jobbik closing the gap, the EU tightening the vice, and the Hungarian populace waking up to the Hungarian government’s conduct; it’ll be interesting to see just how much longer this cycle will continue. Maybe Fidesz’s luck may just be turning.


The Depressing Landscape of Hungarian Football

With Georges Leekens taking over as Hungary manager at the end of October, will he be able to turn the Magyar's fortunes around while the sport rests on a teetering backdrop of underperformance and corruption? Written by Reka Minich

Writing this article is quite the emotional rollercoaster for me. Why? Because I am addicted to Hungarian football because of my late father, a ferocious Ferencvaros supporter.

One of my earliest football memories is when my Dad was complaining about the dire state of the Hungarian league champion. My memories are a bit faded, but I remember the name: Zoli Varga. After a little bit of googling, I found the season: 96/97. And I have been a Fradi supporter ever since.

One of my biggest dreams was seeing the national team in a big international tournament. Last year’s European Championship was really euphoric not only for me, but for the whole nation. Because of the great victories, the reality almost faded. We celebrated defeating Austria, and a draw against a solid Iceland and the later victorious Portugal in a really entertaining match. After 30 year’s absence from the top tier European football, nobody really was too bothered about the big defeat from Belgian. But we really should have seen the warning signs. They were always there, but nobody cared.

The last "great Hungarian football success" was in the 2009/10 season, when Debrecen competed in the Champions League group phase. They had a lucky draw, but they could defeat weaker teams, which is not a thing Hungarian teams can always do.

In 2010 a big political change occurred in the country. I am really sorry that I have to write about this, but in the present state of the nation’s sport it was a really big step. The Socialist’s party defeated in the elections and the Young Democrat’s party won the 2010 and later the 2014 elections. Its leader is the football enthusiast Viktor Orban, a former amateur footballer. His idea reformed the financial support of the national sport scene. The core of this new financial structure was the corporate tax, which could be reinvested in youth sports. If you know a bit about Hungary and its people, then you will correctly guess, that the money went straight into the biggest clubs of the first tier of the National Football League, and Orban’s favourite team, which was a small local team in the regional league when he played football. This team nowadays is called Puskas Labdarugo Akademia.

I know it may be hard to follow. You may be missing the connections at some points. We do too.

After years of big financial investments, we are still struggling for big tournament qualifications. Our biggest clubs have much bigger budget than other Central and Eastern European teams that are in the EL group phase. Hungarian teams continously go out in qualification.

So you may ask: what is the problem? This is a warning for you all: from now on this will be a really subjective opinion. My opinion, and I am just a Hungarian Fradi supporter who is watching the teams since 1996.

I think the biggest problem is that the financial power could not bear any success because of the old habits. You can invest a lot of money, but if you are not willing to change the core, things which are rotten, you are doomed to fail. If you are paying attention to the Hungarian top tier, you could see some familiar faces. The prime examples are Attila Pinter or Geza Meszoly. You could see the patterns. Two relatively young Hungarian trainers with no foreign experience, but plenty of local support. Pinter won a national championship with a really strong Fradi, then he could manage the national team, with no success. After his failure he managed the wealthiest second-tier team Mezokovesd, then the prime minister’s home team Puskas Akademia. Meszoly also had strong support from the background. He managed his local team Ujpest, then its rival team Vasas. After his failure, he had the chance to manage the national U18 and U19 teams.The common things? In my opinion, they both are very limited trainers. They do not have any revolutionary ideas about football. They are not the most intelligent people. So why am I picking them out? Because they made a laughing stock of themselves with their press conferences. They always thought that they are the most important people in the team and they were the first to blame the players.

On the other hand the most famous trainers are Pal Dardai at Hertha and Zsolt Löw at RB Leipzig. The common point is that they played abroad from a young age, they have the German footballing mentality. They both are very driven personalities who seem to be keen to learn the new methods in training or follow the latest trends in the tactical department. They were just examples. The rest is just a bunch of questions. I really doubt that you will ever have the answers.

What is happening with the young footballers of Hungary? We are having some real young prospects. The biggest hotshot nowadays is Dominik Szoboszlai. I really hope that he can make the final cut. He has the potential, he is playing in a good team. But can he? I have my doubts. You just have to look at the buzz of the last decade. Krisztian Nemeth, Peter Gulacsi, Krisztian Adorjan. They played at the Liverpool academy. So what happened? Gulacsi made some clever changes and now he is playing at Lepizig in the Champions League. In my humble opinion, he could be the example to follow. He always knew when it is time to make a step back so you can step forward a bit later. But Nemeth or Adorjan? The usual answer is injury. I can write more players who had some fine years in a good European team then faded. Gera with some really nice seasons in West Brom and Fulham, then not one but two ACL tears.

Nowadays we have some really fancy academies with outstanding facilities and financial support. Last year’s Double Pass audit made some depressing conclusions. The focal points was that the main focus is still the results from the youngest age groups. This is a real problem for the players whose development is slower than the others. I know that the chance is very slim that a Messi would be born in Hungary, but for example Adam Nagy had similar problems and he barely made it to professional football. The team training is adequate but the individual development barely exists.

In the last few years I was trying to read about the tactical and physical phase of football. That was the time when I realised how important it is to analyse every aspect of the game. I think these are the two most important aspects of the modern game. To be one of the best you have to learn from the modern greats. In Hungary we have history and pride. We are not willing to learn. I always watch the analysis from the "great players” of the last 20 years on the weekend. One of the quotations which really stayed with me is something like this: "I also can train Barcelona, they have a similar training which we have in Hungary". You can say that, but the sad reality is that Hungary suffered its most embarrassing defeat in a while against Andorra earlier this year. We have not had a team in the Champions or Europa League group phase in years.

As I was writing this little article Hungary played a World Cup qualifier against Switzerland. We lost 5-2. Last year the prime players were: Kiraly, Gera, Dzsudzsak and Juhasz. Two of them retired from the national team. Gera is injured again, but at 38 it’s really crazy that the team relies on him heavily. Dzsudzsak was suspended, but his physical attributes declined heavily since he signed for Al-Vahda. After them, there is a giant void which can be a great problem in the upcoming years. Some of the 2020 European Championship matches will be played in Budapest, but I really doubt that we can make it there.