GYÖRGY SZÖLLŐSI 2022.06.20 23:05 Frissítve: 2022.06.20 23:08

Hungarian national team: “Go Huuungary!”– the Prime Minister sang in the dressing room

Nemzeti Sport tried to relive what happened, what was said after the historic victory over England when Ádám Szalai invited Viktor Orbán to the team.


The 4-0 win over England in Wolverhampton became the greatest success of the century. The captain of the national team, Ádám Szalai (9), felt that they should share their joy with the football-loving Prime Minister (Photo: Károly Árvai)


As we reported after the match, Viktor Orbán congratulated the Hungarian national team exceptionally in person on their astonishingly big-goal-difference victory in Wolverhampton. According to a Telex journalist, our team captain, Ádám Szalai, was speaking to him when Szalai noticed that the Hungarian Prime Minister was still on the grandstand half an hour after the final whistle. That's when he asked him to say a few words to the team. "The Prime Minister initially refused the invitation, claiming that it was the players' success, it's their celebration, and that he did not want to interfere with his presence. In the end, however, at Szalai's third or fourth plea, he accepted it and joined the Hungarian players," Telex writes.

Szalai invited Orbán, then an opposition politician, to his team's dressing room in 2009. (Szalai was playing for Real Madrid Castilla at the time of their meeting, and the founder of then recently established Puskás Akadémia watched the young Hungarian striker's match with technical director György Mezey at the Real Madrid training center. Thirteen years later, Szalai could welcome Viktor Orbán, who is entering his fifth term as prime minister, to Wolverhampton as captain of the national team that defeated England.)

Ádám Szalai, who was playing in Castilla at the time, presented a Real Madrid jersey to Viktor Orbán in 2008 at the training center of Real (left: György Mezey, the then professional leader of the Puskás Academy)

„After realizing that the Prime Minister was present at the match, I asked him after the final whistle to say a few words to the team Ádám Szalai told Nemzeti Sport about the special moments. –  I never like to do so, and it is not appropriate to talk about what is said in the dressing room as it is only a matter for the team. I would not do it now either, but I can say that, of course, I was very pleased that Viktor Orbán came into the dressing room and personally congratulated the national team on the successes of the last few weeks. It is an honor for every player to hear from the first man of the country how long the Hungarians will be proud of us and the result of the match against England.”

The Prime Minister also said, as our portal found out, that he will always talk about it and tell his grandchildren that he was present at the historic match in which Hungary defeated England 4-0. In the cramped dressing room in Wolverhampton, which is typical of old English stadiums, where players and professional staff could barely fit in, the football-loving Prime Minister gave a congratulatory speech for a minute or two. Orbán has attended most national team matches for decades, usually away clashes too, and his name is inseparable from the Hungarian intensive sports and football development program launched after 2010 together with MLSZ led by Sándor Csányi. The former world-leading Hungarian football culture has sunk to unprecedented depths by the turn of the millennium, from an infrastructural, professional, and moral point of view, as well as in terms of the number of players, fields, and fans. However, this sad process has now been reversed. The first outstanding result was the qualification for the 2016 European Championship and our top finish in the group there. It was then followed – again with Hungarian participation – by the 2020 (2021) European Championship, which was partly hosted in Hungary in the new Puskás Aréna. The team stuck to its post again, already under the guidance of head coach Marco Rossi.

Viktor Orbán knows exactly what the football dressing world is like – whether it's an NB III team’s or the national team’s

Viktor Orbán, a former youth NB I and Felcsút NB III footballer – already as prime minister –, was a loyal supporter of the national team and domestic clubs even during the turbulent decades of Hungarian football. It is memorable, for example, that he cheered for Dunaferr or Debrecen on the spot at international cup matches also as an opposition politician. When an unlawful administrative decision relegated Ferencváros to the second division in 2006, he bought a season ticket and went to the Green and White team's matches in protest, so that he could take an active part in the reconstruction of the sport as the founder of the Puskás Akadémia and again as prime minister. In his speeches and similes, he often mentions the honest and character-forming world of football and football itself as his natural environment. Viktor Orbán is not an everyday guest in the national team dressing room. As he said, this time he only went to the players at Ádám Szalai's request, which he last did a good ten years ago in March 2011. After a heavy defeat by the Dutch in Budapest, he stood by the team with his presence before the rematch in Amsterdam (which then they lost again (5–3) in the away game. However, the team played a great match with one of the best national teams in Europe).

Pál Dardai (left) and Gábor Király (right) can also remember when Viktor Orbán stood up for the team and football even in the more difficult moments of the national team

After many years of construction, our match against Austria was the first win in 52 years (!) in the history of the European Championship and it caused such euphoria in Budapest in June 2016 that people gathered together on the streets to celebrate. The prime minister also referred to this and similar expected reactions in his congratulatory speech in the dressing room in England. The jollity of a similar size didn't occur now probably because the superior defeat of the English happened after the 1-0 win at home ten days earlier, and it was simply not as much of a surprise, unlike the 2-0 against Austria six years ago. As unbelievable as it may seem, many Hungarians sat down in front of the TV with a clear hope of victory. The final result was so amazing that the bookmakers made a 100-time payoff to the person who was betting on a four-goal victory for the Hungarians. Although many people have questioned the quality of the work carried out at football academies many times before, former academists scored all four goals. Dániel Gazdag, raised in Kispest, scored one goal, and two former Puskás Akadémia footballers in Felcsút, Zsolt Nagy and Roland Sallai scored one and two goals, respectively. (One of Marco Rossi's assistants is Zsolt Laczkó, a former national team player who is working as a coach at the Puskás Akadémia.)

According to those present, the atmosphere was understandably cheerful and euphoric in the Hungarian dressing room on Tuesday night. The informal speech of the Prime Minister sometimes made the national team players laugh, who had perhaps the most memorable evening of their lives and were on cloud nine. One of the squad members even had a go at the well-known verse: "Go, Hungary!" The others, including Viktor Orbán, immediately joined in the singing, chanting, and clapping together. "It was a great moment,” recalled one of the footballers present. We also learned from one of them that the Prime Minister shook hands with all the players, walked around and congratulated everyone individually before leaving the dressing room of the Hungarian national team, which won for the first time since the legendary 6-3 in England.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán cheered along with MLSZ President Sándor Csányi during the Nations League match against England (Photo: Károly Árvai)

Unfortunately, there were no audio or video recordings of the prime minister's visit because, as team captain Ádám Szalai mentioned, it is traditionally forbidden to record anything in a football dressing room, which is the most intimate environment of the teams. Even if we wanted to watch these liberated moments again... (There's only a couple-second video going around the Internet that shows the players already celebrating themselves jumping half-naked and singing to Tomi Fluor's Mizu.)


Referring to the perhaps unsurpassable success, on the night of the victory Mr. Orbán jokingly remarked that "The question is what we will do for the rest of our lives," but he wrote on his social media along with the sensational result: "We must be modest now..." This, of course, suggests commendable restraint, but it also undoubtedly means that we now have something to be “modest” about...

Translated by: Vanda Orosz

Although many people found it strange or criticized that the Hungarian Prime Minister went into the dressing room at the request of the team captain to congratulate the members on defeating England, it is not unprecedented in football history. Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck celebrated with the German national team in the dressing room after the 1-0 World Cup final win over Argentina in Brazil in 2014. According to reports back then, the Chancellor toasted with beer with the players, several of whom took selfies with her. Merkel was wearing a necklace of stones with the national colors at the time and carried a black-red-yellow football-shaped bag on her arm. But she's not the only lady to have opened the door to the boys celebrating. Princess Stéphanie of Monaco also personally congratulated the Champions League finalist team, AS Monaco for getting promoted after defeating Chelsea in London in 2004. President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović of Croatia and President Emmanuel Macron of France, together with Russian President Vladimir Putin, personally attended the award ceremony on the pitch, hugging all the players after the 2018 World Cup final. Just to name a few similar occasions. The fact that we didn't win a World Cup? Looking at the scale and the failures of the last few decades, the 4-0 defeat in England is almost worth a World Cup success for us.
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