An Ode to Ádám Balajti

When I see Balajti, I go out my head.
I just can’t get enough. I just can’t get enough.
All the things you do to me and all the goals you score.
I just can’t get enough. I just can’t get enough.
We slip and slide and we fall in love, and I just can’t seem to get enough of…
Ádám, Ádám Balajti! Ádám, Ádám Balajti! Ádám, Ádám Balajti.

It’s a gloriously sunny day in May 2021.  Football has just re-opened after the Coronavirus shut outs and just in time for the closing games of the NBII season.

Vasas, pre-season title favourites, find themselves needing a miracle to go up after blowing their lead at the top of the table the previous week.  There’s a fantastic permutation whereby if Gyirmot wins their game, Debrecen draw theirs, and Vasas defeat Győr by 21 goals, then the Ironmen go up to NBI.

Given that this is Hungarian football, that scenario is not entirely ruled out.

Sat in the stands that day were two (slightly inebriated) members of the Ádám Balajti Vasas Supporters Club, eagerly waiting to see their hero bag the 21 goals needed to win promotion.

Balajti was sat on the bench. He stayed there the whole game and Vasas didn’t get their 21 goals. But I like to think he heard us chanting his name and sat listening with an approving smile on that cheeky face of his.

Love at First Buzz

As is the case with most modern love stories, this one begins with a mobile phone app notification and a swipe to the right.  The app in question was Soccerstand, and the swipe to the right was to reveal yet another goal for Ádám Balajti. 

It was to become something of a weekend ritual that began during the 2017/18 season when Balajti was running the show for Vac. The all-knowing buzz of a goal update would pulse through on my phone followed by the swipe right, then the nervous anticipation to see if my hopes of a Balajti goal would be matched with the actualisation of that very fact.

More often than not, my hopes were met and more…

Balajti is the ultimately cult-hero.  At 5ft9’ with a small portly belly, and the tiniest shin pads known to man, Balajti struts his stuff (or at least he used to) with the swagger of a 90’s Brit-popper. 

Fellow Balajti enthusiast Dan Cochran summed him up perfectly in his blog:

“Bala delighted in putting opposing players on their arses, adding Zlatan-esque extra touches to sprinkle gold dust on his strikes, even as the net was already gaping. He hit perfect arcing volleys, delicate chips and lobs, but mostly he twisted back and forth until the entire opposition defence couldn’t tell their arses from their elbows. Then he’d just pass it into the net.”

Ultimate Cult Hero

Dan had got in touch with me after reading an old blog post and asked me along to a Vasas game one day. “We’ve got this guy called Balajti up front” he said, “I think you’ll love him.”  Little did he know.

Balajti was the man who made watching NBII football fun.  His first touch belied the level he was playing at, it was so good.  His ability to run at defenders, put them on their arse as Dan said, and then go back and do it all over again before either scoring or setting up a chance was delightful.

He was cocky but never arrogant and between 2018/19 to 2020/21, he backed it all up with a staggering goal contribution of 0.93 per 90 from his left wing role for Vasas.

Balajti had the style and the substance, and a place in my heart.

Sadly, due to an internal issue at Vasas he fell out of favour towards the end of the 20/21 season and has barely kicked a ball for them since; ironic given their need for a showman and goal scorer to win back the fans.

Vasas looked doomed to relegation this season.  A part of me is dreaming of seeing Ádám Balajti guide them to the NBII title next season.

When I see Balajti, I go out my head.

I just can’t get enough. I just can’t get enough.