A whole generation of Hungarians have never seen their national team compete in a major, international football championship until now. The nation of the legendary Ferenc Puskás has not played in the World Cup since 1986 and it has been 44 years since our team qualified for the UEFA European Championship.
Full of high hopes, Hungary’s fans prepared for the game with moderated expectations. Qualification for the championship in itself marked an exceptional first step in the revival of Hungary’s once legendary football, and bookmakers were expecting outright Austrian victory. Or a tie at most. After all, we had not defeated Austria since 1965, until last night.
Ninety-five minutes later, a confident Hungarian and a disappointed Austrian team left the stadium. Our squad played a fun, interesting, professionally meticulous game and secured a safe victory in the country’s first final tournament win since 1964. Kudos to Szalai and Stieber for the awesome goals, to Király for defending the goal, to the whole team for the perfect harmony and coordination and to head coach Bernd Storck for the strategy.
It was truly a historic win.
In today’s heated political climate, some media outlets were peppering the players with criticism meant for Hungary’s government, and we also received some of the flack. However, this victory for the national team stands far above politics. Although the government does aim to improve access to sports for children and adults and to revive Hungary’s culture of world championship football, the team’s victory last night carries meaning that’s difficult to put into words. After decades of humiliating decline, Hungary is standing tall again.
The championship tournament continues, and our side faces Iceland on Saturday. We know we remain an underdog in Euro 2016, but you’ll indulge us for a moment, I hope, while we relish this sweet victory.
Great job, boys!