Prior to Szoboszlai, LFC signed 14 Hungarian players in a 7-year period. | soccer4u
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Prior to Szoboszlai, LFC signed 14 Hungarian players in a 7-year period.



Luxembourg has not often been able to describe itself as a command post of footballing potential – as a nation who have produced very few renowned stars; though Robby Langers did draw level with Gary Lineker in the ranking for the Ballon d’Or in 1989 – but holding the European U17 Championship in 2006 saw the continental mediator play host to a number of stars of the future.

Belgium was represented by Toby Alderweireld and Axel Witsel; Germany was represented by Ron-Robert Zieler, Sven Bender, Lars Bender, Stefan Reinartz, Toni Kroos, and Marko Marin; Serbia and Montenegro was led by Stevan Jovetic; Spain was represented by Sergio Asenjo, Cesar Azpilicueta, Ignacio Camacho, and Bojan Krkic; and the star of the show was Miralem Pjanic, who had previously committed to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

For a number of future European stars, the competition was a kingmaker, and Jozsef Both’s Hungary was keen to make an impression on the same platform.

During his team’s stay in Luxembourg, Both said, “I think we have two or three players who are in the European elite for this age, which makes me very happy and is a very good thing for Hungarian football in general.”

Hungary lost to both Russia and Spain in the group stage and was eliminated from the tournament, but their performances were impressive, and their 4-0 victory against the hosts at the Stade John Grun in Mondorf-les-Bains was their summer high point.

The eventual victors were Russia, and Kroos was crowned Golden Player, which coincided with his transfer from Hansa Rostock to Bayern Munich. Scouts from all over Europe attended the event in an attempt to identify the standout performers.

Rafa Benitez and head scout Frank McParland were planning at the time to broaden their recruitment efforts in an effort to position Liverpool as the top youth team on the continent, and the Spaniard was obviously impressed by the Hungary U17s’ performances.

In 2007, three players from Both’s team moved to Merseyside: attackers Andras Simon and Kristian Nemeth arrived on permanent contracts, while goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi joined on loan as part of a contractual relationship with MTK Budapest.

The agreement, according to MTK general director Laszlo Domonyai, is “a milestone not only for MTK but for the whole of Hungarian football,” with Liverpool offering MTK’s Karoly Sandor academy financial support in addition to a platform for the nation’s youthful talent to flourish on.

Zsolt Poloskei joined the group in 2008 for the duration of the season, and Gulacsi’s transfer became permanent in the same year. In 2009, the club put Attila Abu, Patrik Poor, Krisztian Adorjan, Patrik Vass, and Peter Horvath through trial periods; Poor was granted a two-year loan, and Adorjan signed a long-term deal.

After trialing, Kristof Polgar and Kevin Korozman joined the Reds’ academy in 2012, while Patrik Demjen and Balint Vogyicska also trained at the club’s Kirkby development facility in 2013. Adam Hajdu joined on loan in 2010 and took a year off in 2011.

In just seven years, Liverpool signed 14 young Hungarian players to permanent, loan, or trial contracts, and seven more joined Oldham.

Although Benitez made a daring decision by looking to Europe rather than Merseyside to bolster his academy team, it still raised the question of why Liverpool resorted to Hungary.

“MTK had the greatest academy in Hungary at the time, by far. Hungarian football journalist Tomasz Mortimer explained in 2017 that in 2001, the club’s owner, Gabor Varszegi, one of the richest men in Hungary, saw an opportunity to make a lot of money by developing talented young players so MTK could compete successfully in Europe. Both’s U17 squad at the Euros consisted of 14 players from the Budapest club.

“I believe that when it became unattainable, his priorities shifted and he believed that the best method to recover the money would be to

Fundamentally, even if Varszegi’s goal did not lead to European success for his team, it did give Benitez the perfect feeder club to develop his young ranks; yet, as Mortimer went on to say, this talent exodus had a severely negative effect on MTK.

Although they didn’t have first option over Genk’s players, Thibaut Courtois, Kevin de Bruyne, and Christian Benteke all left the team during that time, seemingly with Liverpool showing no interest. However, only one player spent time at the Luminus Arena during the four-year contract: Congolese left-back Chris Mavinga.

The conventional feeder club strategy has been supplanted more recently by the growth of multi-club ownership, with Brighton leveraging their affiliation with Union SG to lend expertise to Kauro Mitoma and Simon Adingra.

Man City is a member of the City Football Group, along with eleven other clubs that have ties to Australia, Brazil, India, Uruguay, China, Japan, Spain, France, Italy, and Belgium.

Under the Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool has adopted a more casual strategy after realizing they had little to gain from their infatuation with Hungary and that they had unintentionally caused serious harm to the country’s football industry.

infrastructure: Despite expectations of a Magical Magyars comeback in 2006, Hungary has not qualified for a World Cup since 1986.



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