FIFA Ranking: 20
Manager: Bernd Storck
Special Move: Curses
Odds of winning: 200:1
The most you should wager on them: $20. . . Think about how smart you’ll sound if they go on a run!
From Soccer Powerhouse to Lesser Footy’s International version of the Factory of Sadness
Fans of Hungarian soccer have waited thirty years to qualify for a major soccer tournament and 42 years to qualify for the Euros. With such a lengthy gap inbetween tournaments, it’s hard to believe that this is the same country that produced arguably the most exciting team–Hungary’s team of the 1950s, nicknamed the Magical Magyars– to ever play soccer.
The Magical Magyars were the first team to play a style called “Total football,” which is a technical term to say they had a fun, attacking style which saw them kick this piss out of a lot of teams (including curb-stomping England in a game titled “The match of the Century”). Other teams like the 70s Dutch and Pele era Brazilian teams tried to emulate Total Football, but they didn’t look nearly as amazing as those Hungarians. Hungary’s best player at that time, Ferenc Puskas, was a human highlight reel who scored some beautiful goals. As a result, FIFA has an award named after him for “most beautiful” goal of the year. Take that, Pele! So what the shit happened to Hungary’s soccer team?
The TL/DR version is money. The decline and fall of communism resulted in less money being allocated to soccer, as well as incredibly corrupt officials taking way more than an acceptable five finger discount. This resulted in a virtually non-existent youth academy. The fact that the Hungarian league doesn’t pay well led to the talented players going abroad, but were usually designated to being subs on their new team.
This led to neo-Nazis barging their way in and began alienating talent while stealing more money. The players that could play for another country did, while other players just weren’t called or wanted nothing to do with this shit show. Managers didn’t give a shit about their players, and were more interested in the behind-the-scenes stuff than developing players.
A team that had glory in the 50s and hasn’t been relevant in thirty years? I’d say Hungary was the international equivalence of the factory of sadness, but, it’s even more depressing. Unlike the Factory of Sadness, Hungary could have had their drought end 10 years ago, but essentially lost a generation of success because their emerging star, Miklos Feher, died on the field. The curse of Turan was strong that day.
Since then, Hungary has had a ton of gut check moments and have started to get their collective shit together (at least in soccer). Not only are they getting the toxic out of their soccer federation, they have also become these charismatic underdogs that are easy to cheer.
Reasons why you should cheer for these guys:
- Generation X’s last stand:
Gabor Kiraly is 40 years old and is Hungary’s starting goalie. He’s the kind of guy you could go have a beer with and probably have a few laughs, even if you didn’t speak the same language. Fun fact: Kiraly received a 10-match ban for throwing a ball at a referee after a defeat. He is also known for wearing grey sweat pants while playing in net. German club 1860 Munich actually sold Grey sweat pants in their team store because he was such a fan favorite. There’s also an urban legend out there stating that he started an attack by deliberately bouncing the ball off the crossbar. This is the kind of crazy we come to love about our goaltenders in sports.
Aside from Kiraly, Zoltan Gera–more on him in a minute– is 37 and will be seeing lots of playing time. They also have borderline Gen X’er/Millenial, Leondardo,who is thirty-four years old but won’t see the field.
2. Their other Key Players are also likeable:
Szalai is the rebel of the group. He dropped the athletic equivalent of a “pipe bomb” after Hungary’s 8-1 defeat by Holland in a World Cup qualifier in 2013. Among his points were Hungarian club managers were backstabbing each other and that the country hadn’t produced a top talent for 20 years. Szalai “retired” from the international team due to the horrendous manager at that time. He was right, and after Hungary continued to clean house, Szalai returned.
This 20-year old midfielder had a fantastic Euro qualifying campaign and as a result, is likely going to be one of the belles of the Euro 2016 ball. Assuming he has a good tournament, Nagy will likely sign a big contract with a big soccer club after the Euros. Not only is Adam Nagy small and adorable, he is still living with his parents, despite playing for Hungary’s biggest club. He’s probably going to marry his kindergarten sweetheart.
Fun fact: Fiola didn’t even want to become a professional soccer player. He wanted to become a firefighter like his old man. However, when he was nine, a close friend persuaded him to go to training and lent him cleats four sizes too big. Tragically, the friend died in a car accident before Fiola was playing for the national team. Now, to honour his friend’s life (and possibly avenge his friend’s death), Fiola has trained hard and has become Hungary’s best right sided defender.
When Bode was a kid, he collected bowling pins for pocket money in a pub to buy new soccer cleats. You can’t teach that kind of lunch pale work ethic, folks! He also once said “I’m one of the best in the world if there is no ball and no opponent, but if they are on the pitch I’m not always successful.” Who couldn’t possibly like such zaniness from a player?
Zoltan is the ultimate redemption story: From a young age he smoked, drank, did drugs and stole from his mother. He did not finish high school but then found religion, turned his life around and has become a role model. He played more than 250 league games for West Bromwich Albion and Fulham before returning to Ferencvaros, where he has just won the league and cup double and was voted player of the season. If he can figure things out this Euros, Hallmark’s direct-to-TV movie company or Disney are going to have to get a little foreign and make film about his life!
3. Their Schedule has them playing against our former enemies:
Game 1: Austria, June 14, 9AM PST
Get ready for the this joke to be told a bajillion times:
Many people are picking Austria to finish second place in this group. However, Austria hasn’t really done all that much over the past 20 years in International soccer. You want to know why you should cheer for Hungary against the Austrians?
David Alaba is Austria’s best player. He was born in Austria, but moved to Munich as an adult and is now becoming world famous as he speaks to the masses in German. You know who else was born in Austria and first moved to Munich as an adult where he became famous speaking in German? HITLER!
Game 2: Iceland, June 18th, 9AM PST
First of all, Iceland happens to be Canada’s and America’s Junior Goodwill Games Tournament rival.Those cheats are the biggest cheats to ever cheat, so screw them.
Lets not forget their role in WWII.
You know when you’re in your 20s, there’s that one girl you’re really into, but there’s also a guy that likes her at the same time, so she declares herself neutral but still sends dirty texts to both of you? About a day after she declares this, she calls you up to fool around, which you happily oblige. Except, once you get there, after you start to talk, you realize she’s kinda stupid, but you don’t let that deter you because you know you two are a great match. Now, you’re about to go down on her when you see she clearly has genital herpes. Remember her? That’s Iceland in WWII. Nazi pyscho, Dr. Werner Gerlach went over to Iceland to convince Iceland to join the Nazis. According to his memoirs,:
“Icelanders are a great disappointment. The upbringing of children is pathetic. Schools are beyond the pale. . . they lack discipline. . . We need to reconsider our position on Iceland completely. We need to have scientists do what can be done, but other than that, this grovelling, which meets no kindness, must stop. Modern Icelanders do not deserve us, neither for their temperament, nor their significance, with the exception of a few.”
The disillusionment of how backwards a supposed Aryan race country is amusing, but, shows you how backwards Iceland really is. And lets not forget that they deliberately lied about their country in their name. Greenland is full of ice, while Iceland is very nice. You can’t trust them!
Game 3: Portugal, June 22nd, 9AM PST
If you were to think about dictatorships in the 2oth century, one might think of Hitler, Mussolini or Franco. But did you know Portugal’s dictatorship lasted for almost half of the 20th century and is considered the longest in Europe? That’s not democracy! And then there’s their team.
Despite what this asshole thinks about Cristiano Ronaldo, do you really want to cheer this guy?
Hungary is clearly the best option out of these teams. Now, you may say, “Wakezilla, wasn’t Hungary part of the Axis powers?” While sometimes it was voluntary, it was usually coerced. Hey, what’s a tiny landlocked country supposed to do when Nazi Germany and Soviet Union are double penetrating you at the same time? By 1944, they did declare war on the Nazis, which is nice. Their “reward” after WWII, however, was to be placed under Soviet control, despite fighting tooth-and-nail against them. UN foreign policy!
When it’s your first international tournament in 30 years and you’re given 200:1 odds to win the tournament, you probably shouldn’t expect much. Funnily enough, Hungary is actually the “hottest team” of the group, as they have 2 wins, 1 loss and 2 ties over their last five games. All the other teams in their group have losing records during that span. Hungary has nothing to lose and outside of Portugal, neither Austria or Iceland is that much better than the Hungarians. Then factor the pressure those other teams have as being the favorites and maybe Hungary can sneak up on them and claim second place. After that, a quick exit in the round of 16 seems likely. But you should never underestimate the power of Kiraly’s grey sweatpants!
Either way, this is a pretty likeable team that you can adopt as your own. Drink some Hungarian wine or some Golden Pear and eat the meat version of Lecso while you watch the Hungarians play. . . or you can stream the game online and open another tab and put it onto your favorite adult site. Chances are you’ll see a lovely Hungarian woman hoping you’re pulling for them. . .