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30/01/1926: Becske interviews Alfréd Schaffer

Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2022-07-12 15:36:37

Data providers: Isaque Argolo.
Frigyes Becske | 30/01/1926, Vienna

— The story of the affair — Sparta were presented as a Hungarian team in Paris — Spéci's future plans — Plattkó is in sensational form — Sagri Barba and Alcantara are "world class" according to Schaffer.

On Friday afternoon, after a solemn and very warm welcome at the railway station, Spéci, the popular king of football, marched — directly to the Ring Café.
In his honour, all the notables were present. The café's regulars, led by Hugo Meisl, the sports editors of all the newspapers, a host of football fans and the staff shouted hoch as the café was taken over, in a manner so warm and heartfelt that the football hero, who had seen so many crowds, was almost emotional at first sight. It was the first time — since I have known Spéci — that the king had words stuck in his throat, words which on other occasions also flow from him in abundance.
After being patted by everyone present, Spéci was hugged and sweetened the welcome with some real Viennese pleasantries. Alfred took his place at the round table and gave a general audience as a reward for his great homage. First of all he satisfied the curiosity of the reporters and then he told — in a nutshell — the story of the affair.
I want to nail down for posterity his most important remarks, and I hasten to publish these historically noteworthy utterance.
Asked if he regrets the termination of the contract, Spéci replies:
Schaffer: Sparta can only regret it, because here, gentlemen, is the dough, here's the money!
He takes a cheque from his pocket and waves it high in the air, much to the envy of the completely limp citizens of Vienna.
He is then asked if the rumour of his entry into Vienna is true.
Schaffer: It depends on what they will pay me. If my salary is worth the Austrian championship in 1925-1926, it could be possible. They can congratulate Vienna in this exchange.
He is then asked to recount something about Sparta's tour and the origins of the affair.
Schaffer: I'm sorry, I can't comment on that. My secretary is in Prague and has the material. He's also sorting through the offers I've received from abroad. It is very inconvenient that I had to stay without a secretary. Now I have to put on and take off my coat alone, and I'm not really used to it.
In a word, the Ring Café is a place where fun and laughter have gone with Spéci. His bohemian figure had been sorely missed here lately, especially now that the din of battle had driven all the fun and merriment out of the place. So Spéci was received by his friends in Vienna with a warmth that exceeded all expectations.
No serious interview could take place here, so we said goodbye to the jovial company and retired to our room in the Diana Hotel for a chat. Here I heard a lot of interesting things from Schaffer, which I would like to share:
Schaffer: First of all, please refute the reports about my negotiations with the Amateur or any other club in Vienna, because I have not negotiated with any club so far.
» My affair with Sparta erupted in Bilbao, where I had a heated exchange with Schemost, Sparta's general secretary. I saw the same tendency in the fact that while younger players were often rested, I had to play the first five matches of the tour and in those matches my teammates conspicuously missed and played directly against me. Schemost must have been aware of this conspiracy against me, as he himself wanted to send Dvořáček back to Prague for such a in a case like this. However, we were still on good terms at the time. But now that I had taken a strong stand against him, and he, fearing that his feared authority would be damaged, changed his spit at my action, and from that day on he was one of my opponents. The members of the team — with the exception of Káďa, Hochmann, Horejs and Červený — were downright hostile to me, or rather — behind my back.
» In Paris, for example, the Journal wrote that the Hungarian football king Schaffer and his team had arrived. Finally we can see a Hungarian team playing in Paris! Anyone who knows the Czechs' love of Hungary can imagine the impact this article had on my "colleagues". In Zurich, where I was advertised, I was not allowed to play. As a consequence, the clubs there deducted 1500 Swiss francs from Sparta's fee.
» When I took over Sparta's training last year, the team was on the rocks. They were losing games after games and Schemost called me to Prague in desperation, promising me a lot. I took it upon myself to reorganise the team. I think I was quite successful. Under my leadership and contribution, Sparta lost two out of 71 games! In four weeks we have beaten: Vienna, Amateure, Slavia, DFC, Bolton Wanderers and Uruguay!
» What it means in Prague when the Czech sporting community awards someone the title of most popular footballer in a vote, as they did after Káďa, is as unexplainable as when someone from Sparta, not known for its cavalier attitude, receives a severance package and an immediate playing licence for a foreign club, as I did. I will say more about the things I have experienced at Sparta next time, but for now I just want to say that Sparta's behaviour towards me is devoid of any morality.
» For now, I'm staying here in Vienna for a month or two. If I do not succeed in getting a contract here that suits my needs, I will accept one of the repeated offers I have received from Nuremberg, Munich, Basel, etc. I want to play football for a few more years, because I feel in great shape, then I'll be a critic myself. I think I'll make a pretty good sportswriter. I'm going to open up a little bit for the cause. My name is not a bad brand either.
» During the tour I experienced many interesting things. Of all the Barcelona players, I was most impressed with left winger Sagi Barba and Alcántara. Both are players of sensational ability, Piera is obese and Samitier, to be honest, did not make a great impression on me as a player. Even the Czechs think Plattkó is better than Zamora. The boy is hugely popular in Barcelona and his magnificent six-seater car is proof that he knows his stuff.
» The Swiss are mostly amateurs. It's true that they can't even claim a salary based on their playing skills. I consider the French to be even weaker. Sparta's 7:2 win was achieved against a mixed Barcelona FC (Plattkó, Samitier, Sagi Barba and Alcántara did not play), which makes the result worthless. By contrast, Vienna thrashed all of Barcelona 4:1 and were better against the Spaniards than Sparta.
That concludes the discussion and we're on the road with Spéci. We caught up with Meisl, to whom Spéci, told the story of his affair in an extended edition. The good Hugo said nothing, but shook his head vigorously. But the diplomat's silence was telling. We both understood.