Written by Tomasz Mortimer
On Saturday 16th July 2011, the whole nation of Hungary was shocked and saddened to hear the death of former Hungarian international and manager Bertalan Bicskei at the age of just 66.
The news of his death appeared on the official Liberian Soccer website where Bicskei was manager until February 2011, before being diagnosed with an unknown illness which is believed to be linked to his death.
Bicskei was born in Budapest on the 17th September 1944, and 20 years later he was playing in between the sticks at Budapest Honvéd where he went on to play over 200 games for the Hungarian NBI side in over 10 years. While at Honvéd he also played for the Hungarian National Team in 1973 and moved to MTK Budapest a year later where he played for two years before becoming the Director of Football from 1977 to 1986.
In 1984, Bicskei jumped into the World of management and took over the Under 19 Hungarian side, leading them to victory in the 1984 European championships – Hungary’s only ever UEFA title to date. From here Bicskei had been noticed and took over the club that made him a legend – Honvéd.
In his first year at The Army, he lead them to the domestic double claiming the Hungarian Cup and the National title and it wasn’t long before his qualities were used as head coach of the Hungarian national side. His first stint as Hungary coach wouldn’t last long, and the beginning of Bicskei’s worldwide roaming began.
In 1990, Bicskei moved to Daewoo Royals in South Korea, before hopping to FC Lucerne in Switzerland then to El-Masry in Egypt prior to returning to MTK in 1995. Again his spell in Hungary wouldn’t last long, and Bicskei was off again, this time to Saudi Arabian club Al-Riyadh, ahead of moving back home, again, to Honvéd.
In 1998, Bicskei’s longest stint at one job came as Hungary boss, but he wasn’t particularly successful as the Hungarian manager, and left his post in 2001.
However a year later, Bicskei was back in management where he moved to Shenyang in China before returning to Hungary to coach Videoton. Predictably his time at Videoton was short, and Bicskei went back to his former club El-Masry before stints with Malaysia, Újpest, El-Masry (again) and finally Liberia – where he signed a four year contract in June 2010.
Outside of football, Bicskei was a pioneer for young footballing talent, inside and outside of Hungary. In 1986 he graduated from the World renowned football academy in Koln, Germany – one of very few Hungarians to earn the prestigious coaching diploma. While in Germany, he also studied philosophy and learned to speak fluent German.
Bicskei also wrote many publications and manuals on football – including the highly successful book, “Preparation of Young Footballers” that was first released and sold out in Hungary in 1998.
And in 1997, his achievements and work was recognised by the Hungarian Minister of Sport who recommended him for the title of ‘Master Soccer Coach.’
Our thoughts and prayers our with his family at this time, and as the MLSZ statement said today, “with his death we have lost a very important part of Hungarian football.”