I have experienced much more good things than bad this year – Dániel Gazdag
Dániel Gazdag, who had bad luck and unfortunately missed the penalty, soon realized that he had nothing to be bitter about after losing the MLS final. Interview with the Hungarian footballer from Philadelphia Union.
|Dániel Gazdag (Photo: Imago Images)|
– Can I congratulate you?
– Yes! – said Dániel Gazdag to Nemzeti Sport. – Unfortunately, we lost in the final, but we had a good season anyway. I was obviously devastated after the final whistle, I was angry that we lost, but as time went by, I realized that I have experienced much more good things than bad this year. I woke up the day after the final feeling that I shouldn't be sad.
– If someone had told you before the opening game that Philadelphia would finish the championship as silver medalists, would you have slapped them?
– Not sure. Finishing second in a series that ends with a final means losing the last game, which is not a good feeling. But it is also true that we can be proud of this second place. We were close to the final success, it was a matter of a few nuances before we failed to beat Los Angeles FC, which was the favorite, and that is very encouraging for the future.
– Before we talk about the future, let's look back to the past: you moved to the United States a year and a half ago. Was it a good decision?
– One of my best decisions of my life. I've had a wonderful experience and I'm happy to add that my family has as well. After the final on Saturday, we returned to the hotel and spent the evening together with everyone from the management and staff in the various departments of the club, coaches, and players to family members. My wife Gréta and I suddenly realized how much we are loved here. Everyone had a kind word for me, after my missed penalty, they couldn't fail to assure me of their love and support. It was an elevating feeling.
– Can we talk about the final?
– Why not? I thought it was a good match, and the atmosphere was great, similar to what I'm used to in national team matches. The spectators certainly liked what they saw, and the final was a great advertisement for Major League Soccer. I enjoyed every moment of it - well, almost every moment... In one minute, the opponent looked like the winners, and the next minute, we thought we had the trophy. Even the penalty shootout was full of twists and turns: first, they made a mistake, then we did. It was like we were on a rollercoaster and although LAFC won, I think we have no reason to be ashamed. I'll tell you, when Los Angeles took the lead for the second time in the eighty-third minute, I almost thought the game was over, but fortunately, we quickly equalized. What happened in extra time is still hard to put into words.
– First, your team was on a power play and then scored a goal in the fourth minute of the nine-minute extra time...
– When the LAFC goalkeeper was sent off, I was sure we would score. I wasn't wrong, and at 3-2, I felt it was a no-brainer. But it was. We should have just needed a minute and a half more to manage, but football is a beautiful game because anything can happen in it. We came out of it badly this time, but they say that what fate takes away from here gives it back elsewhere, so I'm confident that what didn't work last time will work next time.
|Dániel Gazdag has fought for every ball, scored a lot of goals in the MLS and is having a great year with the national team, too (Photo: Imago Images)|
– Life should compensate you for the missed penalty as well!
– Unfortunately, I slipped. As I was leaning out before the shot, I could feel something was wrong. I couldn't control the ball and it went over the post. I was sad because I've been scoring the penalties well this season, and after Los Angeles' first kicker made a mistake, it would have been a great psychological boost to score ours. But that day, we must have been cursed because the next two players after me didn't score either. When we had been practicing penalties all through the playoffs – it was a pity it didn't show...
– Experts claim that without Dániel Gazdag, Philadelphia's season would've ended sooner.
– I've been told the same thing after the game, and the management as much as the professional staff consoled me. If I hadn't heard it with my own ears, I wouldn't have believed it: they thanked me for being here. Of course, I owe them a debt of gratitude because I have felt their appreciation from day one. That's why I say that, despite the loss in the final, the overall picture is positive. Everyone at the club is looking for the good in what has happened, and they find it: we have made history by winning the Eastern Conference while we have the most goals scored and the fewest goals conceded. In the regular season, we earned the same number of points as LAFC, which only enjoyed home advantage in the final thanks to its more wins. I don't know what would have happened if we had hosted the final, but I hope to be able to tell you about it next year.
– The positive attitude seems to have rubbed off on you.
– The mentality here is different, there are not only weddings and funerals, but there is also middle way. Make no mistake, after the final, no one was popping champagne in the dressing room, we were staring at each other in silence, and everyone on the bus was quiet. The mood in the hotel began to lighten, and by the end, everyone was able to celebrate what we have achieved this year. It was good to experience this, it helped me to process what had happened.
– The time for rest hasn't yet come...
– I have two matches to play for the national team, which I am very happy about. It's been a long and tiring season, but I could never say no to the national team. If they call me, I want to be there! This year has also been a breakthrough for the national team. I've been given a bigger and more important role than before, and I think I've lived up to my expectations. I'm very keen to prove against Luxembourg and Greece that I can help the team. We fly home on Saturday, and I'm looking forward to going to Telki on Monday!
– I assume you won't pack everything.
– We'll definitely return to Philadelphia! Preparations start in early January, my contract with Union is for another year. According to my plans, I will complete it, and it could even happen that we will extend it soon. I play for a good team, I'm surrounded by good people, my family also feels great here. I'm not just looking at what's good for me anymore, I'm also looking at what's good for my wife and our sons. And we are happy in Philadelphia.
– But could there still be an offer later that you'll think about?
– We know how it is. If I get an enquiry that suits everyone, I'll think about what the best decision could be. But I will not transfer just to say I've changed clubs. A lot of things will have to happen to me to not start the next season in Philadelphia. I'm really happy here. Though, it's true that I was happy in Honvéd as well. And there are certainly other good places and clubs in the world...
Dušan Vasiljević, Dániel Gazdag's manager, watched Philadelphia's last two matches, the 3-1 win over New York City in the Conference final and the grand finale against LAFC, on sight, and while he was in the US, he also talked with the club's management."Dani and his team had a great year!" Dušan Vasiljević told us. “Unfortunately, we didn't manage to put the icing on the cake, but there is nothing to be sad about. The one and a half years in Philadelphia have done Dani a lot of good, he has improved in all areas and can now shoulder the burden of a leader. Therefore, it's no coincidence that his market value has jumped from one million to six million euros during his time in the U.S. His mentality is exemplary, and he is driven to achieve more and more success. Right now, it's ninety-nine percent that he will stay in Philadelphia, and it's no secret that we're close to extending the contract as he's received an offer that's hard to say no to. However, it is not set in stone that he will wear the Union jersey next year. There is significant interest in him, and when the transfer market opens in Europe, even Philadelphia Union might get an offer that is hard to refuse..."
Translated by Vanda Orosz