ZALÁN BODNÁR 2022.04.30 08:47 Frissítve: 2022.04.30 08:47

30 years ago, Hungary led Ukraine to the world football scene

The Ukraine-Hungary national team match on April 29, 1992, in Uzhhorod was a historic match, which Hungary won 3–1. But what was more important than the result was that the game became a generation's basic football experience throughout Ukraine and especially in the Zakarpattia Oblast.

József Kiprich was greeted with bread and salt in Uzhhorod, and then he scored two goals


Due to the milestone anniversary, we would have paid special attention to the memorable Ukraine-Hungary national team match played 30 years ago, but the recent news in world politics and the events of the Russian-Ukrainian war that began about two months ago, give a strange and sad topicality to the subject. Mainly because at the moment the existence, survival of an independent Ukrainian state is one of the stakes of the war, and this football match was one of the important cultural events of the strengthening of an independent Ukraine born with the dissolution of the Soviet Union – if you will, reborn, since with slightly different borders then, the Ukrainian People's Republicwas established in 1917, which was occupied by the Red Army in 1920 and merged into the Soviet Union in 1922.


A program booklet was also prepared for the match Uzhhorod
Ukraine–Hungary 1–3 (0–0)
Uzhhorod, Avanhard Stadium, 15 000 spectators. Referee:
 Zhuk (Belarus)
 Kutyepov – Luzhnyi, Nikiforov, Bezhenar – Kovalets, Pohodin (Sak, 56.), Shelepnytskyi, Tsymbalar, Tretyak – Scherbakov (Husyev, 70.), Salenko (Hetsko, 60.).Head coach: Viktor Prokopenko
 Brockhauser (Balogh Tamás, 89.) – Telek – Limperger (Balog Tibor, 60.), Lőrincz (Kovács E., 86.) – Mónos, Sallói (Pisont, 75.). Lipcsei, Márton (Illés, 83.), Simon – Kiprich, I. Vincze. Head coach:Jenei Imre
Goal scorers:
 Hetsko (92.), and Sallói (62.), Kiprich (68., 84. – second one is a penalty) 

It is also a Hungarian joy to be at the cradle

"Hungary is leading Ukraine to the world football scene," Nemzeti Sport wrote on its front page on the day of the match, and despite the pathetic title, there was no exaggeration in it.

Ukraine declared independence on August 24, 1991, supported by the majority of Ukrainians in a referendum held on December 1. The solemn tone remained a feature of the coverage of the match throughout.


"We'll face a never-before national team match," our newspaper heralded. “On Wednesday, in Uzhhorod, coach Imre Jenei's eleven will meet with a new team of a new country to complete a diplomatic mission,make a friendly gesture, and lastbut not least, to measure themselves before the World Cup qualifiers, which begin in June. Until now, Ukraine had no way of forming a football teambecause when it gained independence, Ukrainians either did not know footballor their smaller problems were bigger than having to pay attention to the game. This will be Hungary's newborn neighboring country's first international match, and that is why these 90 minutes will be a more significant, even if not the most important, event than any subsequent clash. Something begins, something is born, and we Hungarians can be at the cradle. It does matter how we look in the memory book."

István Sallói made his debut for the national team in Uzhhorod and celebrated the occasion with a goal. His strike managed to break the resistance of the Ukrainians, who probably did not feel sorrow for long (Photo: Zoltán Thaly Jr.)

Szalenko (Fotó: AFP)Salenko (Photo: AFP)
Az utaztatás költségei és a FÁK Eb-csapatában Due to the high cost of travel and the possibility of playing for the CIS European Championship team, the Ukrainians were unable to use their best players for the first national team match in their history. However, there were footballersin the Uzhhorod match who later decided to play for the Russian national team.The most famous is Oleg Salenko, who wore the Ukrainian jersey in this one match only and in 1994, together with Bulgaria's Hristo Stoichkov, became a co-top scorer with six goals at the 1994 World Cup, after scoring a world record five goals for the Russian national team (in which he played eight times) in the group match against Cameroon.Yuri Nikiforov did not stay in the Ukrainian team much longer: after three games, he transferred to the Russians, for whom he played 55 times. Ilya Tsymbalar also turned his back on the Ukrainian national team after three games; he scoredthree goals for Russiaat Euro 1996 against Italy. (He died of heart disease in 2013 at the age of 44). Serhiy Scherbakov was 20 years old in the Uzhhorod match. After two national team games, he also switched, and played six times for the Russian U21 national team (twice against us), but


Hungary not only became the first match partner of the Ukrainian national teambut also helped to establish the football federation of the neighboring country. At the beginning of 1992, a delegation led by the head of the forming Ukrainian federation, Viktor Bannikov, arrived in Hungary to study the operation of the Hungarian federation up close at the Hungarian Football Federation (MLSZ)when Mihály Laczkó was the president. After the resulting relationship, the idea arose to conduct a national team match against each other.

Zoltán Magyarhas gained inexhaustible merits in organizing the historical clash. He has a family connection to Zakarpattia – his mother was born in Berehove. Magyarhas previously worked as the department director for Ferencváros, then worked as the manager of the U21 national team, and later became known as the manager of the Hungarian Olympic and national team. He now manages the Hungarian parliamentary national team as their head coach. He suggested to Viktor Bannikov that Ukraine should not play the first match of its history with Canada (the North American country emerged as an opponent in the Ukrainian federation because there is a large Ukrainian expatriate community living there), but with Hungary, which has already proven its friendly attitude towards the new neighbor in countless ways and wanted to strengthen the relationship with this match as well. Zoltán Magyar also initiated the match to take place in Zakarpattia, Uzhhorod, instead of Kyiv because there were almost two hundred thousand Hungarians living in that area. "We don't even play away from home," Nemzeti Sport noted in its title.

Although the venue, the Avanhard Stadium, was a rather weathered facility at the time, the choice proved to be a hit: the 12,000-seat stadium was packed with 15-16 thousand fans. "An idealistic, paradisiacal state prevailed, perhaps there were more Hungarian flags in the stands than Ukrainian, but that was not the point. Everyone loved everyone." Zoltán Magyar recalled.

Ivan Hetsko scored the first goal in the history of the Ukrainian national team


Sports journalist Stepan Selmensky, an outstanding former FIFA referee who was a member of the organizing committee of the match at the time in 1992, remembered dearly the Hungarians'contribution.

"The Ukrainian team was a dark horse for us, we didn't know the players, of course, we didn't have any video footage of them, we had no idea what to expect. But we had a good team and we proved that in the second half. I scored two goals, it is a memory forever, as is the fact that the hosts greetedme as the team captain with bread and salt.”
József KIPRICH, 76-time capped player and then-team captain

"I made my debut for the national team on that day, and I scored a goal right away, it couldn't have been better. Thanks to the many Hungarian fans, we played in an almost domestic environment. Later, in Beitar Jerusalem, Serhiy Tretyak was my teammate, with whom we were very nostalgic about that match. I also attended the 25thanniversary game."
István SALLÓI, former national team player capped 13 times 
"We didn't know the opponent, but we showed them a lot of respect because they were students of the Soviet football school. The match was very important for the Hungarians there, so we took it very seriously, we wanted to win in any way. I'm glad I assisted, the game achieved its goal and even served the preparation against the English."
István VINCZE, former national team player capped 44 times

"Three Nemzeti Sport journalists traveled to Uzhhorod, and I remember that for some reason we were taken to Uzhhorod by helicopter from near Budaörs, and we were there in half an hour. I had not been in a helicopter before or haven't been in one ever since. After the game, we submitted the article, we got on the helicopter, and I think it was only once in the history of reporting from abroad that we got back to the editorial office before the article was laid out."
Károly LAKAT T., former editor of Nemzeti Sport, covered the match

"The Ukrainian federation, which was formed at the time, was very pressed for time because according to FIFA rules, an official match had to be played within a short period of time in order for the Ukrainian Football Association to be officially admitted to FIFA and UEFAso that we could compete in the European Championship and then the World Cup. The Hungarians were the first to apply, and from there, it was only a matter of organization to implement the match in Uzhhorod,"Lajos Jakab quoted his words in an article published in the weekly newspapers KárpátInfo and Kárpátalja.

Ivan Verbitsky, a sports journalist quoted in the same two articles, revealed on a TV program that the historic match was originally scheduled for April 22 in Kyiv, but the Ukrainian federation did not even have enough money to cover the Hungarians' travel expenses. As he said, the jerseys of the Ukrainian national team were also difficult to manufacture, the logo of the Ukrainian Football Federation also had a Russian inscription on it, and the huge letter D on the jersey of the goalkeeper IhorKutyepov indicated that Dynamo Kyiv's goalkeeping jersey was on it...

István Sallói made his debut with a goal

The head coach of the Ukrainian national team was officially Viktor Prokopenko, who was also the head coach of Chornomorets, but the coach trio of Anatoli Puzach, ValeriYaroshenko, and Prokopenko selected the squad members essentially from three club teams: Chornomorets, Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk, butthen trainer Valery Lobanovsky, who was working in the United Arab Emirates at the time, was also taken into as a consultant.

The Ukrainians had no chance to assemble the strongest national team. On the one hand, the Ukrainian federation had no money to travel their stars playing abroad (Oleg Kuznetsov, Oleksiy Mikhailenko – both Glasgow Rangers, Gennady Litovchenko, Oleg Protasov – both Olympiakos, Serhiy Yuan – Benfica, Oleksandr Zavarov – Nancy or the former Ballon d'Or winner from Kyiv, Igor Belanov, who was in Braunschweig, Germany about to retire. On the other hand, they started the 1992 European Championship qualifiers as the Soviet Unionand were the only ones that advanced from the group which included Hungary too and could only participate as part of the Commonwealth of Independent States(CIS) at thetournament in Sweden. Also, for Ukrainians who wanted to be included in the European Championship squad,wearing the Ukrainiancoat of arms was impossible. It was also telling that, according to the Ukrainian short film about the event, no Ukrainian player sang the new country's national anthem...

However, the Hungarian team managed by head coach Imre Jenei could stand up with its best players, as the match was an excellent preparation opportunity not only for the World Cup qualifiers in the fall but also for the clash against England 12 days later.

The first half of the same was disappointing, the Hungarian team, which was considered the better team, struggledand started the second half goalless. The Hungarian national team's superiority in knowledge then became visible. For this, the first goal scored by István Sallói, who made his debut in this match, was very important in the 62nd minute when he struck the ball into the middle of the goal from five meters after István Vincze's pass.

"Finally!"  the sigh of relief broke out from commentator László Gulyás in the TV broadcast, and then six minutes later, József Kiprich bombed the ball into the bottom left corner, and in the 84th minute, he scored from a penalty. The home side also had a beauty patch: in the 92nd minute, Ivan Hetsko from Zakarpattiaruthlessly strucka freekick from 20 meters with his left foot.Everyone could be satisfied with the 3-1 result, the spectators celebrated, according to countless recollections, elderly Zakarpattian Hungarian fans tearfully thanked the Hungarian national team for the fact that they traveled to Uzhhorod, won, and they could see this live.

Ballon d'Or, hosting the European Championship, Champions League final

Although the Ukrainian team playing its first match had virtually no chance of winning, four months later,the "rematch" in Nyíregyháza on August 26 (the two teams have not played each other since) showed that there is potential in the players, and although they lost 2-1 again, KálmánKovács could only equalize in the 81st minute, and Tibor Nagy scored the winning goal in the 92nd minute. Ukrainian football soon began to develop significantly and overtook the Hungarian one. Dynamo reached theChampions League semifinals in 1999, Shakhtar won the UEFA Cup in 2009, the national team reached the last eight at the World Cup in 2006, two years before that, in 2004, Milan's foreign player Andriy Shevchenko won the Ballon d'Or, the country together with Poland hosted the European Championship in 2012, and Kyiv was the home for Champions Leaguefinal in 2018.

We do not know whether there will be any continuation of the successes and what the fate of Ukraine will be, but Ukrainian football was born thirty years ago and started its coming-of-age path there, in the rusty Uzhhorod Stadium against Hungary.

 MINI Interview



Zoltán Magyar, one of the masterminds and organizers of the match in Uzhhorod: The match was a celebration halfway between Kyiv and Budapest

What were the precursors to the 1992 match in Uzhhorod?
– Back in 1990, I got an invitation fromSándorVarga, sports manager of Zakarpattia who is of Vyshkovon origin, to go on a tour of Zakarpattia with Fradi. I was the department director of Ferencváros at the time, and the case was important not only because of my Zakarpattian roots. In front of thousands of spectators at the Druzhba (Friendship)Stadium in Berehove, we managed to conjure up a real football celebration – we won three of them, József Dzurják doubled. The precursor to the invitation was that we hosted the Uzhhorod team in Budapest for days with the help of my friend, outstanding former player and coach István Vojtkó, then in 1991, we competed with the league team led by János Csank in Uzhhorod with Zakarpattia's national team. These matches led to the historic gamebetween the two national teams.

Did the hosts easily agree to make Uzhhorod the venue instead of Kyiv?
– Yes, after seeing how much we help them with everything, and we had already proven to be good neighbors, they also wanted to make a gesture. I was also motivated to pay tribute toHungarian, Rusyn, Slovakian and German national minority footballers and coaches of Zakarpattia whose work contributed to the development of Ukrainian and Soviet football. I argued that the match should be midway between Kyiv and Budapest, and even if it is not entirely geographically possible, symbolically it is. That is why I suggested that the rematch in August should not be in Budapest, but in Nyíregyháza, near the Ukrainian border, which is the sister city of Uzhhorod, and where we also managed to create a great atmosphere.

What was the afterlife of the match?
–It should be known that since then, April 29this Ukrainian Football Day there as November 25th is in Hungary– the anniversary of the 6-3 in London. That is how important that match is to them. After the match, we held a huge banquet at the Zakarpattia Hotel, and the friendly relations remained, later we played several matches with the parliamentary national team in Zakarpattia. I quietly note that we also thought about playing an old boys memorial match on the 25th anniversary in 2017. More than 6,000 spectators gathered for this game, and they won 3 to 1 this time, although many youngsters also played for them. But that wasn't the point.

I'm guessing there's hardly going to be a memorial match on the 30th anniversary...
– We have already started to organize a special game in Uzhhorod, but history intervened. I have a strong opinion on the current situation, but I do not want to talk about politics in the sports paper. I hope that sports will continue to connect countries and not separate them from each other.

2022.09.29 22:51:31


Ádám Szalai played 86 matches for the Hungarian national team and scored 26 goals.

2022.09.29 17:58:11


If everything goes well, Roland Sallai will start training with the ball in two weeks.

2022.09.28 13:35:56


Ádám Martin praised Ádám Szalai effusively after Szalai's last game for Hungary.

2022.09.27 13:37:52


The head coach thinks that Dzsudzsák also deserves the farewell celebration that Szalai has received.

2022.09.25 18:26:35


„It's a final against Italy, a 50-50 match, and it's great to say that.”