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Thousands of football stadiums, a thriving sports life, a rich past – Giorgi Zolosi on Hungarian football

Nemzeti Sport’s editor-in-chief told Mandiner about the combined Polish-Hungarian sports history, sports policy, performance and opportunities for Hungarian football.

This year, just two hundred years ago, the two teams played a game for the first time – how were we in the world ranking at the time and how do we stand now? What was the significance of the match at that time?

It is interesting that the Hungarian Football Association had been in operation for twenty years at that time, football had started in Budapest a little earlier in Warsaw, and this period is already part of the heroic era in which the players and coaches of classic Hungarian football took over. Theater Now I only mention three: Emre Schlosser, one of the strongest forwards of all time. György Orth, watched by many – who have seen both generations – is older than the world’s stars on the Golden Team, and Bella Gottman, who started out from the superstar team of this era, MTK. Among them, Schlosser played in the 1921 match against the Poles, but the later legendary radio reporter, Istvan Blührer, or one of the coaches of the golden team, Giula Mandy, was also on the field. The venue was also the track for MTK Hungária, the final score 1-0 not indicating much difference between the two teams. First, the great decades of Hungarian football followed, and even after World War II, many Hungarian coaches helped the Poles catch up, then surrounded them in the 1970s. Perhaps the turning point was the final match of the Olympic Games in 1972, in which Poland won 2-1 with many trailing stars – Zbigniew Goet, Jerzy Georgo, Leslav Oumkiewicz, Anthony Zemanowski. Today, both countries once again play an increasingly important role in world football, but the Poles undoubtedly lie ahead. So much so that they managed to host the European Championships with Ukraine in 2012 (we also competed several times at that time, but we couldn’t win the European Championships in the absence of stadiums) and Robert Lewandowski was the present-day scientist. best player. Only in the time of Puskas could the Hungarians say such a thing about themselves. The credit of the Polish-Ukrainian European Championship is largely due to my friend Michel Lecjiewicz, who, as president of the Polish Football Association and Chairman of the Competition Committee, rendered a tremendous service to his country by winning the European Championships. Unfortunately, Mr Listkiewicz is not chairing the Hungarian Competition Bidding Committee, but rather Tamás Gyárfás.

There have been a large number of gentle gestures in Hungarian history about the Hungarian-Polish friendship. Can you remember some?

Most affected was when, after the execution of Emre Nagy, Polish fans wanted to take a spontaneous mourning break in the Honved 1958 match in Khorezov. But let me mention a very exemplary success in Polish-Hungarian football. Nemanja Nikoliks of Serbian father and Hungarian mother chose the Hungarian national team and was a real favorite in Hungary, also she was a scorer in the colors of Videooton. But he is also so liked by the Poles that he also performed well in Legia Warsaw and became the Polish goalkeeper. And when he became an American goalscorer as a Chicago Fire player, the millionaire Polish community in and around Chicago was already involved in his contract.

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At the amphitheater, local Serbs, Hungarians and Poles praised his goals with particular pride.

I also participated in a match three years ago, and it was a great experience trying everything. We were able to experience the solidarity and generosity of the Poles when, prior to the 2003 European Championship qualifiers in Khorezov, the Hungarian typists commemorated the radio reporter Daniel Molnar, who had died before the match, and this was his last broadcast to Jenny Kenzi. This match is also unforgettable for me because I was able to work on site as the press head of MLSZ and the Hungarian national team, and then I first met Mihaly Rusunzi-Kovacs, who at that time was the son of the consul at the time in Krakow, István Kovács, who helped us with Interpretation as a high school student. Messi is now a popular popular musician and Polish expert, not to mention a football fan.

What score would you guess on toto? Does the Hungarian national team have a chance against Lewandowski?

My mind says the Poles are winning, but I listen to my heart and expect a brilliant win for Hungary. We won 2-1.

What do you think of Polish football policy? How is it different from your home country? What can be learned from the Poles?

I don’t dare say I know firsthand the work of the federation led by Zbigniew Bunijk, but I do remember well when the weekly newspaper Képes Sport was sent to Warsaw in 2003 to study what makes Polish football so much better than Hungarian. Indeed, in the post-transition period, football suffered in both countries, but the new era of radical change found us in a worse position, and the Poles soon found their way to successful traditions, reaching many major tournaments and making massive improvements in the infrastructure of the European Championship. For 2012. Not only were the stadiums renovated, but I remember well how envious the urban residential pathway construction program that, as far as I know, built a small artificial turf field in the country in 2012. In Hungary, similar developments started ten years later, but now we are doing well in the region, after our previous big lag, infrastructure developments have followed professional renewal and ever-improving results. Although football success in any country never depends on one man, it is invaluable that the Poles currently have the best player in the world, Robert Lewandowski. Perhaps the light of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who defined past decades, has faded, Lewandowski has managed to outpace his rivals year after year, while Bayern Munich has also outdid its rivals. The example of such a global striker is able to love football for an entire generation, so it is a tragedy that when Ferenc Puskas excelled at Real Madrid in a similar role as Lewandowski, the Communist shut down his inspiring example on Hungarian children. Dictatorship. He did not appear in the newspapers, his matches were not broadcast on television, he was persona non grata in Hungary, while millions of young people admired him in the world. When he scored four goals in the BL- (BEK-) Final, it was just a little hidden news in the Hungarian Sports daily, the other newspapers didn’t even write about it …

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When will it be possible to see a sign of ongoing domestic developments in the results of Hungarian football? Will there be a golden team?

We can already see the signs. The Hungarian national team reached the European Championship again in 2016 after 44 years, and now in the next European championship, we will be there again, and the four matches of the tournament will be held in Budapest, so we can compete here with the French world champion and the European champion .. with the Portuguese. We hope that you will be in front of tens of thousands of fans, because we had no such experience in the Hungarian matches, even during the time of the greatest successes of Hungarian football. One of the biggest transfers in the winter transfer window was Dominic Zoboszlai’s contract worth 20 million euros from Salzburg to Leipzig, making him the most expensive Hungarian footballer ever. Hungary’s most popular team, Ferencváros, entered the Champions League after 25 years and, for the first time in three years in a row, was one of the Hungarian clubs in the European Cup group. Small successes, but tangible progress, and there has been a generational change in the national team since the 2016 European Championship, which has been a success for the seniors, Roland Juhasz, Gabor Kiraly, Zoltan Gera and their contemporary coach, Pal. Darday. Now, young people emerging from the new academy are an increasing part of the team.

The international competition today is greater than it was during the golden team,

But the example of Croatian silver medal winners in the last World Cup finals shows that we still have the strength and talent in the small Central European countries to compete with even the biggest nations.

György Szöllősi is a Hungarian sports journalist, specialist writer and editor-in-chief of Nemzeti Sport since 2016. In January 2019, he was elected Vice President of the International Federation of Sports Journalists, a member of the European Union. Ambassador of Hungarian Football Traditions and Puskas Affairs.

Why is football so important in Hungary – is there a resource footprint in sports in team sports as well? Is there any evidence that this affects the health and mental state of the population in any way?

When the thousand-year history of the Kingdom of Hungary ended with the loss of the First World War, and the country lost two-thirds of its lands (with its natural treasures, forests, cities, universities, and millions of Hungarian citizens), it became clear that we cannot dream of political, military or economic success. Subsequently, the great politician, Count Kono Klippelsberg, announced a policy of “cultural superiority” that focused the few remaining resources on the education and upbringing of new generations, culture, science and sport. Five thousand village schools and farms were built, illiteracy ceased, but grammar schools and universities were established within a few years, and Professor Albert Zentorgi, who was the first to isolate vitamin C, returned home and received the Nobel Prize for his research at home. In 1925, the Budapest Sports Hospital and the College of Physical Education were established, Scouting and sport flourished for the first time in the world, and the Sports Act 1925 required all factories to build sports facilities for their employees. Experience and display of patriotic pride and virtue moved from the battlefield to the stadiums, and Hungary became a sporting superpower in just twenty years: in the Berlin Olympics in 1936, we were third behind the Germans and the United States on the medal table, and two years later we won silver medals in Paris in the World Cup. . Generations of this world received a national Christian religious education that made Hungarian sport remarkable even in the 1950s, although young Hungarians suffered heavy losses in the mid-twentieth century. The country, forced to abandon its reclaimed lands again, lost talented young Hungarians in Don Bend, then in Nazi concentration camps, Soviet forced labor camps, waves of immigration after the war and revolution 56, and communist terrorism. Despite the devastation caused by the war, we again finished third at the medal table at the 1952 Helsinki Olympiad, behind the two winning superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union! However, having chosen the best gold team the Free World after 1956, most of the Olympic delegation in Melbourne said, about 12,000 accredited footballers left the country with Puskas and Cochis and 200,000 other immigrants, and Hungarian sports,

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Hungarian football can no longer climb back to previous heights.

The international communist system no longer made any effort to develop Hungarian sport, especially football, which had lost its favor, but only its deep social integration, general popularity and Cold War mechanisms operating in the Soviet bloc helped Hungarian sport to survive the new decades. However, regime change has already found a morally, professionally and infrastructure degraded football and sports life, and the devastation has only persisted in two decades of unbridled capitalism and post-communism. Sport was declared as a strategic sector by Orban’s second government in 2010, and since then construction and development in Hungarian sport has taken place again, thanks to special tax laws, government developments, priority sports development programs, and the attraction of international sporting events to Hungary. The Hungarians are fans of sports, the Hungarian sporting successes, and more and more people are playing sports now, which is very important, as they see that the data indicates the health status of the country. The number of certified athletes has more than doubled since 2010, now exceeding half a million. Not only have Puskas Square in Budapest and the stadiums of the major clubs been renovated, but thousands of football fields have been built or renovated. Gyms, halls and swimming pools are being built in villages and small schools across the country, the “Every Child Learns Swimming” program is being implemented, and daily school physical education has been introduced.

Opening Image: JACK GUEZ / AFP