Marton Fulop feels the considerable weight on his shoulders of one of football’s great teams every time he pulls on his beloved Hungary shirt.
Mention Hungary and Ferenc Puskas follows in the next breath.
Mention Puskas and you have to talk about the ‘Magnificent Magyars’, the 6-3 destruction of England at Wembley in 1953 and one of the best teams of all time.
Talk to any Hungarian footballer — like Marton — and the conversation has to start there.
“From the early 50s until the mid-1980s Hungarian football was very well known all over Europe,” he said. “We were always in the top five or six in Europe. Everyone recalls the team that beat England 6-3 at Wembley and then 7-1 in Hungary. They are known as the ‘Golden Team’.
”So many terrific players played for that team and if they were professionals today, they would be at all the top clubs in the world and worth millions of pounds. They were the best players of that time.
“Growing up, people told me that there used to be 100,000 fans at the games, they played wonderful football and they call it the match of the century when Hungary won at Wembley. That match is still commemorated every year on November 25. They were favourites for the World Cup in 1954 but Germany won it that year. There was a lot of trouble after that because Hungary then are like Brazil now - if they don’t win the World Cup, they are seen to have failed.
“Football in Hungary is not so good now but expectations are very high because people experienced the country being at the very top. Obviously it’s hard when you walk out in the stadium and you are wearing the same jersey as Puskas but we have to move on.
”Lothar Matthaeus is the coach now and he has a lot of experience. He has put young players in the team. We are getting to know each other better and there are six guys in the side who I played with in the Under-21s. That can only help us and hopefully we can do it better again.”
Hungary’s most famous club, Honved — naturally, the team Puskas used to play for — must feel the same weight of history Marton is talking about.
“If you ask any English people who remember that Hungarian international team from the 1950s and they will be able to tell you the names of five or six Hungarian teams like MTK, Ferencvaros and Honved. If the Champions League was around then, they’d all be in it.
“The best team at the moment is Debreceni VSC, who played Manchester United in the Champions League this week. For Hungary they are quite a rich team with good players and supporters. Sir Alex Ferguson mentioned them after the game at Old Trafford. MTK has a very good Academy, good young players who can go to good European clubs in the future. It’s a bit like a small version of Ajax.
“I started at a club called BVSC. It was a good mid-table team in Budapest but a small team compared to the others. I was nine at the time and after three years I went to MTK Hungaria, where my father Ferenc was a striker for 10 years. Now he’s the vice-president.
“I continued my career there, progressed from the youth team to the first team and then moved to Tottenham.
“My team has always been MTK. My dad first took me to a game when I was only two years old. My mum also played basketball for the team, so it was in my blood. Back then MTK had football, basketball, handball, boxing and canoeing all tied into the club.
“The main stars when I was growing up were Lajos Detari, a European-class player who played in Germany and Greece; Jozsef Kiprich who played at Feyenoord and a player I admired in MTK who had the chance to go to clubs abroad but decided to stay at MTK, Bela Illes.
“But my real heroes growing up were FC Barcelona. They were the best team in the world at that time with the likes of Romario, Stoitchkov, Laudrup and my favourite goalkeeper Zubizareta. He was amazing in that team.”