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26/11/1968: Ernő Bajor Nagy interviews Gyula Lázár
Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2022-07-03 14:14:22
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Ernő Bajor Nagy | 26/11/1968
The most famous of all the inhabitants of our country in the 1930s who could be called "Mr. Teacher", both at home and abroad, was an assistant tailor, whom I am waiting for in the EMKÉ. And I wonder how strange it is: in my student days, when we never spoke to each other even for half a sentence, I used to address him unilaterally, but now, from the moment of our first conversation, I call him Mr. Lázár. True, today is no different, tickets to football grounds give any spectator the implied right to knock down members of the world national team. Of course I could have called him the Bozsik of the era, before the Second World War!
STAR IN THE EAGLE
A man with glasses, balding, tired face arrives for the interview. His dry figure gives no hint that this man was once... But let's be brief!
A kid playing football with a soccer ball at the classic football seminars in the suburbs of Pest: the Bejcsúron near the Városliget and the famous ground of Lehel út. Then a student team player, an absolute right-footed left winger. In his father's workshop he tailors jackets, irons trousers and sews overalls.
But even before that, as a student, he had a prank. Such a double joke, with name complications, occurs in farces.
Under a pseudonym — the school would not tolerate anyone playing for a club team — the little student started playing for one of the serious clubs. But the club itself was not serious enough to choose a precise name. This double name complication did not prevent my hero from handling the ball with unlikely ease. I spoke to someone who saw him in that team:
— He stood out in a way that we wanted to. Lázár played in every position, from goalkeeper to left winger; he was a wizard on the dusty suburban pitches. Back then, Aknai dazzled the connoisseurs of goalkeeping; collectors hunted for the autograph of Kalmár, famous for his cloud heads, and Kohut's bombs were the big treat of Green and White Sundays. And for a while there was Zsák, about whom the legends of my student days testified. Well, little Lázár just played football. He didn't even notice that for weeks he was being watched by people who were mostly at home in the stands of the big stadiums.
— My son, would you like to play for Ferencváros? — asked Béla Molnár, the youth team's father at the time.
The 18-year-old boy could hardly nod yes, even in surprise. Perhaps a week had passed and he was a professional footballer for Ferencváros.
Lázár: At first it was twenty-four pengő a week. Then there was an eight pengő starting bonus for every match played, and a forty pengő bonus if we won.
— Your biggest payday in your professional career?
Lázár: Forty-eight pengő a week.
— Number of training sessions?
Lázár: Three a week. Because we worked on the side.
He tells a story about how, as a national team player — as an assistant mechanic for the Elektromos — he went to work in a poster shop on Rákóczi Road. He had something to do with the wiring in the wall. Suddenly, the silence of the busy shop struck him. He looked around to see what was happening. Well, everyone was staring at him, the famous footballer, carving the stubborn wall.
Most of the players in professional football were working. How many of them had cars? As you remember, the national team goalkeeper bought a second-hand car once, but the club president banned him from driving. The stars of the green turf used to travel to their matches by tram.
Initially, the new Fradi signing played left winger. After the February 1931 Ferencváros—III. kerület match, one of the newspapers wrote this about him:
Lázár is a caricature of a left winger, despite the fact that his running shows talent, but if he can't kick with his left foot...
The following week, the Zöld-Fehér team was without Lázár.
Lázár: I was a right-footed player. I kicked the ball with my left foot, but I couldn't handle it. A right-foot torn ligament forced me to use my left foot.
It was the luck of a lifetime that injury. After his recovery, in a review of a Hungary-Switzerland match that ended 6-2, this is what the sports paper's correspondent wrote about him:
Lázár, the young Ferencváros left half-back, was not met with complete confidence in his setting. In particular, the experts criticised him for not being able to use his left foot enough, which could lead to a major disaster in the national team at left-half. Lazar, however, overcame the critics, and it was his ball-striking passes that attracted attention.
Half a year later, in the same newspaper, a report of a Ferencváros-Hungária match praised the left half-back's play:
Lázár's greatness lies in the fact that everything his predecessors knew and did is condensed in him. He is an artist with the ball, but also an artist with the game, with a personality that can blend into the whole, into the ensemble, to benefit from every move.
For fourteen and a half years, he was useful for Ferencváros. He was a member of the national team forty-nine times.
— When and by whom had he been called "Mr. Teacher"?
Lázár: I don't know.
— How many of the newspaper articles praising your footballing prowess did you keep?
— How many medals were left from all those championships?
He smiles, embarrassed. Then he confesses:
Lázár: The gold coins were eaten in the inflation. And the rest...
— How many countries have you visited?
Lázár: A little calculation. Europe, Africa, America... forty countries. At that time, it was a forty-eight hour train ride from Lisbon to Paris. A little sleep, then a train to Le Havre, then a match...
— Who was the fastest winger you've ever played with?
Lázár: Ádám from Újpest.
— The hardest player to catch?
Lázár: Kispest's winger Paczolay.
— The best footballer you ever saw?
Lázár: György Orth. He could have been a national team player in any position.
FROM NEMZETI BAJNOJSÁG II. DOWN
He played his first first league match for Ferencváros in the spring of 1930. His last as a player for A.C. Herminamezei in 1947.
— How did you know you were getting old?
Lázár: I went to get a ball, that it was mine. I used to run the hundred well within twelve. Then it wasn't mine.
Gyula Lázár was a stranger to the practice of retaliating when someone proved to be faster than him. In a playing career spanning some two decades, he had never been challenged or even warned.
— To what do you attribute his dominance?
He's silent. And then a bit of capacity:
Lázár: I thought ahead, like a chess player, about the action, when and where I could intervene.
— I remember you did a magic trick with the ball.
Lázár: It's mostly just catching. I only did what I thought was necessary to play effective football. I didn't strive to be seen as a juggler. They did.
He was no longer as successful as a footballer as a coach. He coached briefly in Egypt and Greece, before returning home last year.
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