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26/04/1929: Somogyi interviews Béla Sebestyén
Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2022-11-06 19:37:20
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"THE GREATEST EXCITMENT IN MY CAREER WERE THE FTC-MTK BATTLES"
— Béla Sebestyén
— Vilmos Somogyi | 26/04/1929 —
Béla Sebestyén is a multiple representative player of the old MTK, famous all over Europe, and today he is the director of the Phoenix Insurance Company. We asked Sebestyén to talk about the big FTC-MTK games of old, the preparations, the excitement, the players and the crowd. The picture of the heyday of Hungarian football came to life in Béla Sebestyén's direct and kind presentation, and a world was painted where warmer and more sentimental people, more exposed to war and suffering, fought and cheered for football...
GOOD DINNER AND SPIRITUAL DOPING
Sebestyén: How it used to be... Indeed, as I recall, the greatest thrills of my football career were the old FTC-MTK battles. There was a special reason for that. Our president, Alfred Brüll, whom we respected above all others, was extremely ambitious in his ambition to win over FTC.
» Such a victory made him happy, a lost match depressed him when it came to the battle of blue-white and green-white colours. Therefore, we put our main focus on this match. We played with the greatest enthusiasm because, apart from the importance of the match, we were also fuelled by the enthusiasm of Alfred Brüll. Before each match, the president invited us to dinner and here, during the spiritual preparation, we not only had a good dinner, but also a spiritual doping!
» I can say without exaggeration that we were in a state of great excitement days before such a match. We always met the FTC players after the match in their regular cafeteria, because we saw them not as enemies, but as chivalrous opponents. At such a banquet after an FTC game, we consumed no less than ninety-three bottles of champagne in joy, and I can't tell you now how we won that old, exciting, beautiful, peaceful Sunday afternoon before that famous evening...
THE WINGER AND THE POPULAR MOOD
Sebestyén: Certainly playing on the FTC pitch was the biggest handicap for us then. The FTC crowd was the loudest and most fanatical at the time and and I, as a winger, especially felt the pressure of the crowd when I was standing above the side of the pitch. Because there were some pebble-throwing incidents and the threatening statements definitely met the criteria of a life-threatening act. In one instance, when I went down the flank and scored a goal, a zealous lad in the standing area swung a certain half-brick at me and threatened to throw it at me if I ever took any direct action again... He soon had me in his confidence and, if it had not been for my proper playing routine and strong psychological doping, I would not have been able to overcome my prejudice.
» In the FTC-MTK games, to be honest, Gáspár Borbás and Imre Schlosser caused us the most bitterness. If Borbás escaped, he couldn't be stopped and always put his pass to Schlosser's feet, so we often got into trouble... One of our full-backs, Béla Révész, the current coach of Hungária, impressed them with his great physicality, but he was slow compared to them and Ferenc Csüdör, with his perfect kicking technique, could not catch them either. Indeed, the Green and Whites were always very good and the reason for this was that the team stayed together for most of the years because, as fate would have it, they were hardly ever injured. For years they were able to field the same Weinber-Bródi-Gorszky back line and the same Weisz-Tóth-Pataki-Schlosser-Borbás forward line against us. We were more fragile and more unlucky. We were injured several times, our team could not be permanent.
A PLEASANT AND A UNPLEASANT MEMORY
— Tell us your favourite and most unpleasant memories of the old FTC-MTK matches.
Sebestyén: My fondest memory: When Gyuszi Biró scored an equaliser in the extra game during a seven-minute "injury time" after FTC had already won the abandoned match 3:2.
» And my most embarrassing memory is the FTC-MTK match, which we lost 6:0 at Milenaris, even though we were equal on the pitch against FTC, but the phenomenal play of Schlosser and Borbás beat us.
» Partners: The late Jenő Károly, the Kertész boys and my brother Dezső Sebestyén. Half-backs: Dóri Kürschner, the first Hungarian foreign trainer, Gyula Biró and Hlavay.
"I PLAYED FOOTBALL FOR 15 YEARS..."
Sebestyén: I played football for fifteen years, starting in 1899 at MUE, when the devilish ball was still admired by the few football spectators... I joined MTK four years later. I played there until 1914, when I got married and stopped playing active football. I should mention that it was the Britishman Robertson, the world-famous coach of MTK, who established the style of play of MTK, a style which for more than a decade was admired throughout Europe and which we still find in the Hungária game. Under Robertson, my younger brother, Dezső Sebestyén, was a member of the MTK youth team in which Konrád II. played at the time.
Béla Sebestyén was not only a great player, but also an excellent expert on football theory. For years, in critical times, he was always mentioned as the most worthy candidate for the post of national captain. A multiple representative, Sebestyén talks about the national teams of the past and present, but in a different way than before. Much more enthusiastically. You can see that this is an issue close to his heart.
Sebestyén: I'm not saying this as a cliché, but there is a serious psychological explanation for the fact that I always give a much greater performance in national team matches than usual. Because I am a warmer-hearted, more emotional person I used to be... And we knew that when we played abroad, we were on a national mission. That's what we were striving for, if they didn't know where Hungary and Budapest were, they should now know and remember forget it no more.
He says almost with emotion:
Sebestyén: I will never forget. It is the fondest memory of my life.
» Stockholm. Year: 1912. Olympics. Rumbold, the captain, a notoriously tight-lipped man, gives a rousing speech before the match against the Austrians for the precious consolation trophy. We are moved by this and will fight as hard as we can. We're going to beat the Austrians, we're going to win 3-0. At the end of the match we stand at attention on the pitch spontaneously, on our own, nobody talking. The Austrians also stand at attention, we sing the anthem. 2000 kilometres from Budapest. The Swedes are standing in the stands with their hats off. Unforgettable. And the beautiful and wonderful thing about it is that no one had discussed it beforehand. Few people know: it was then that England centre-forward Woodward, then the best player in the world, voted the English players: who was the best full-back they had seen at the Olympics. The result was Gyula Rumbold!
ORTH, THE INTELLIGENT FOOTBALLER
Sebestyén: In my opinion, the spirit of the national team today is extremely good. A big part of that is professionalism. The clubs are instilling in the players that they have to produce something because they are being paid to do so. And because the Hungarian people are dutiful, this suggestion has an effect on them. This feeling is then carried over to the national team matches, where the players show their skills to an even greater extent. The personality of the national captain is also extremely important. If a sportsman of great authority and truly respected by the players is entrusted with this position, it has a great impact on the team. Then the advice of the national captain is accepted and his instructions are followed, and this has a huge impact on the result. I think that the perfection with which Gyula Kiss has fulfilled this position is unique in the history of football, and the only explanation for this is that he has a passion, a thought, a dream: football. But I have to say that I also consider the victory over the Swiss a very honourable achievement, because only a very small part of the people here know what it is to win out there among strangers, over strangers...
Béla Sebestyén concludes the interview with this statement of faith:
Sebestyén: Football is not only a game, because character and ideas play a big role in it.
» Football is the great propaganda tool of the Hungarians! Orth, the most intelligent Hungarian footballer, the great tactician, the brilliant commander of football matches, is a charmer of great intelligence in life, and I always refer to Orth when I say that intelligence is part of football!
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