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The atmosphere of the Márton Fülöp football history competition was quite special. Did they expect something like this when they started organizing it? Where did the idea for the event come from?
The main motivation is to remember our Marcika, who left us very early. This year, we organized our goalkeeper camp for the fifth time in Balatonarác, we had a very good atmosphere small-field football tournament, with the participation of the Hungarian senior boys’ national team and the journalists’ national team, among others. And now the time has come to make one of Marci’s old wishes come true, and organize a football history quiz with the participation of students. We talked with my friend Sándor Menyhárt and my wife about the format that would be useful for everyone: we would like to popularize the game, especially in such a way that the great players and stars of the old days – this is not an exaggeration, because they were real stars in their time until – somehow we bring it closer to the current generation. With this, both the children and the players win. It was special that everyone from Lajos Détári to Tibor Nyilasi to Laci Nagy immediately accepted our invitation to participate in this competition. I notice that they enjoyed it, and so did the children, it is no coincidence that many of them formed snaking lines for a signature.

When the foundation was launched in 2016, one of his sentences caught my ear: Fülöp Marci himself wanted a significant part of the material assets he had accumulated to be spent on sports and education of the younger generation. I think it’s a special thing for a national team elite athlete to think about such things, to be so selfless.
The poor detective had time to think about this, since he suffered and fought the disease for two years, and after a while, unfortunately, we all knew what the inevitable outcome was. I think it can be an example for everyone with the clear-headedness and dedication that he spent these two years with, and how much he thought about his legacy instead of self-pity. We knew that we wanted to create a nice memory for our son, that we wanted his example to help others in a similar situation. It was his wish that we support cancer patients and also support young football talents. Let’s give children with a difficult fate the opportunity to show their knowledge and talent at the highest possible level.

EI remember that in the fall of 2015, we were traveling to Norway, for the additional qualifiers won by the national football team and eventually qualifying for the European Championship, when we received the news of Marci’s death. The whole company died down, the whole match, the whole tour took on a noticeably different color from then on. To this day, it is difficult to distance oneself from it when one thinks back to the success in Oslo. How can you, as a father, deal with what happened seven years from now?
I believe that Marcika sees from above everything we do thanks to her legacy and is proud of it all. He is proud of our goalkeeper camps, proud of this football history competition. Because his greatest passion, football, we provide experiences and opportunities for children who share this passion with him. And I am proud of my son, for everything he achieved as a player and for everything he represented as a person. He was a boy whom people couldn’t help but love as a child, and later became an adult who was genuinely respected wherever he went. I think it is more telling than anything that his former teammates, coaches and mentors all come without saying a word, help and try together with us to create the most worthy memory for him. That’s why I can’t thank them enough.

Before the quiz, Tibor Nyilasi said that he would not mind if the 1978 World Championship was mentioned as little as possible, because it was not the tournament that is so good to remember. You were also a member of that World Cup squad in advance, you prepared together with the players who eventually left until the last moment. Is it really so bad to think back on it after more than forty years?
I owe everything to Hungarian football, there were only two years in my entire life when I did not work in football. I am grateful for my fate, because my work is also my passion. Being able to live my whole life in this beautiful sport is a gift. And the 1978 World Cup won’t change that either. Indeed, it was decided at the last moment that Lajos Baróti will travel to Argentina with only 19 players from the 22-man squad, and who are the three who will ultimately stay at home. I had to accept that I would stay. I tried not to think of it as a tragedy for a moment, I was with the national team at a time when not one, not two, but rather ten or twelve excellent Hungarian forwards were fighting to get into the team. And I could prepare together with any of them, with a 22-23-year-old head you could only learn from them.

For example, from Nyilasi and András Törőcsik, born in the same year as you?
They were amazing players. We say it many times, but it’s true, today’s young people can’t even imagine how classy they were. Unfortunately, this cannot be answered with any football history quiz. Not only in the Hungarian field, but also at the international level, they were considered a rare talent.

Do you think we will have more such geniuses in the foreseeable future?
After many, many years of stagnation, our football is in a state of development. Which does not mean that the former sports leaders were not committed to football and development, they were only able to manage from completely different opportunities. Now, starting from the infrastructure, which is the cornerstone of quality play and preparation, to respect, everything is given to be able to make great progress at youth and adult levels. A prime example of this is the performance of the national team, that we reached the European Championship twice, or that we can compete with the biggest in one match, as we proved in the League of Nations. Since the 70s and 80s, I don’t think there has been such a time when a German national team spoke of Hungarians with such respect as they do now. I believe that our talents have been there so far, and now maybe together with the entire football environment they can be placed on a higher shelf for external observers and thus they will be able to achieve more at the international level.

Would you have predicted any of our victories in the matches against the Germans and the English?
No, but it was all the more pleasant surprise.

Which match was your favorite?
This is clear: England’s zero-four. It was a beautiful result.

When we talk about talents, two names cannot be avoided. The present and the future: Dominik Szoboszlai. And from today and tomorrow the past: Balázs Dzudzsák. The national team says goodbye to Dzudzsák on Sunday. At the beginning of his career, he paved the way as a co-manager, for example he was there when he transferred to PSV. How does he live in his memories?
We haven’t worked together for a long time, but our relationship is still very good. He is also one of the players who are happy to help the foundation’s work. They played together with Marcika in the national team for years, I am glad that the relationship between them and us was always friendly. What memories do I have of him? He was a very selfless, normal-minded, amazingly success-oriented guy already at the age of eighteen or nineteen. It was easy to work with him because he liked challenges, but at the same time he was honest, if he liked something, if he had reservations about something, you could discuss everything with him. He transferred to Eindhoven at a perfect pace, where he was able to step up and become a real star. After a long time, he is the first Hungarian player in the West to earn this title. And no, I’m not just saying this out of bias. To this day, it is a memory that makes me smile, as we were walking down the street together in the city, suddenly a man jumped up from the terrace of one of the cafes to come over to hug Balázs. We only found out later that it was not an ordinary fan, but the mayor of Eindhoven who adored Balázs so much and the game he brought to PSV.

It couldn’t have been easy for him as a country boy to get to Debrecen, let alone move from there to Eindhoven.
But he took the obstacle all the better.

They say he got pretty tough after that. Both personally and professionally, he will be much more distrustful and cautious after the years in the Netherlands. This is true?
I think yes. I can talk more about the sports professional part. Everyone knows where his journey took him after Eindhoven, and he got a lot of flak for that decision. Fewer people know what kind of opportunity they had, what kind of opportunity they saw in Anzsi’s offer. Yes, that contract was financially very beneficial, but overall it was something that you couldn’t say no to from a sports professional perspective. Especially since, apart from the Russians, there was only one concrete offer on the table, Benfica, and he could not necessarily have chosen that one, because the two clubs haggled a lot on the possible purchase price of Balázs. In comparison, Anzsi came and without question paid the amount that PSV wanted to see in exchange for Balázs. I don’t think that at the level of the Russian championship, he was a step back compared to the Dutch one, and moreover, he enjoyed such respect at Anzi and later at Dinamo Moscow, which a Hungarian player has probably never experienced before.

How do you see Dzudzák finally getting the most out of himself?
I think there was more to it. Life is a great director and it didn’t always give him the opportunities he deserved. But even with that, we have no reason to complain, he has a beautiful career, especially in the national team.

I think it is not an exaggeration to say that society is divided by the question of whether he deserves Sunday’s farewell game and, with it, becoming the sole leader of the all-time ranking as a 109-time national team player.
If I remember correctly, he played for ten different captains, all of whom trusted his abilities. This cannot be achieved with just two beautiful eyes. Maybe one or two players from this age group around 1985 started out as even more talented than him, but everything came together best with Balázs. Sufficient humility, dedication, the fact that he avoided injuries, everything. He can be really proud of what he has achieved with the national team, not to mention the 2016 European Championship. For me, there is no question that he has done enough for the national team to deserve such a farewell game, regardless of the record.

Will you be there tonight at the Puskás Arena?
That’s not even a question.

While Dzudzák’s farewell match is the main football event of the week for us, most of the world is excited by the start of the World Cup. Will you follow the World Cup in Qatar?
Yes. I think we will see particularly good matches thanks to the unusual time. The teams had less time to work on tactics and practice everything, so creativity and literal play could play a bigger role. I think this will benefit the Brazilians, I support them too.

(Cover photo: Balázs Dzudzsák at the Nagyerdei Stadium in Debrecen on October 1, 2022. Photo: Zsolt Czeglédi / MTI)