Photo: Attila Török


– Did you expect such an easy clash?
– The clash served the preparations of both teams well, even if no one is in top form at this time, and it is necessary to play after quite demanding training sessions – Attila Szalai, the 24-year-old defender of Fenerbahçe and the Hungarian national team told our newspaper after the 3-0 win over MOL Fehérvár. – Overall, we played well, and from Wednesday, we will continue our preparations in Istanbul. It felt good to meet the national team players again, and I also saw many familiar faces in the professional staff of Fehérvár. I played for Michael Boris in the U19 and U21 Hungarian national teams for many years, and in addition to him, I have also worked with Sándor Preisinger and Gábor Késedi for a long time.

Videó: Szalai Attiláért Grazban is megőrülnek a török szurkolók

– Your team will start the season with a Champions League qualifier against Dynamo Kyiv after next week. What would reaching the group stage mean?
– In addition to the Süper Lig, the Champions League is also very important for the club, so it would be a big dream come true if we reached the main draw. That's what we're working for, and that's why we're going to do everything we can in the next few weeks.

– Mostly Jorge Jesus, who was appointed in June, is responsible for achieving these goals. What are your first impressions of the Portuguese manager?
– Everyone in the world of football knows his name, he won many trophies in Portugal and Brazil and obviously not by accident. He has a characterful personality, the team also likes his ideas, and in the current period, we try to master the movements and tactical formations that he expects of us. We try to learn something every day, in addition to the tough training, there are a lot of video analyzing and team meetings. Based on the impressions we've had so far, we're on the right track.

Before and after the preparation game against Fehérvár, we saw that the fans loved you. Can you even go out on the streets of Istanbul without being asked for a photo or an autograph?
– The fanaticism of our fans would be difficult to describe in words, but if anyone really cares, feel free to visit Istanbul... We play football all our home games in a fantastical atmosphere, our arena is like a really hot cauldron. During the current training camp in Austria, thousands of Fenerbahçe fans came to our matches and last Saturday's preparation match against Partizan filled the whole longitudinal side of the Merkur Arena in Graz and the fans sang through the whole 90 minutes. The atmosphere is something similar in Istanbul, except that we are encouraged not by five or six, but by fifty to sixty thousand people.

Attila Szalai, a defender of the Hungarian national team and Fenerbahçe, also took his time for the fans after the winning match against Vidi

– How much better of a football player have you become in Turkey?
– I've improved in all the elements of the game, but perhaps most of it in building attack. Fenerbahçe always strives to possess the ball, we try to build the action from the goalkeeper and the defensive line, but we also have to make sure that the defense remains closed and organized all the time.

– How can you cut free from the transfer news? There is almost no month when the press does not tie you with one of the top European teams.
– I still have nothing to say about this news. I have said many times in recent weeks and months that I do not want to think about these rumors, I am only focused on the success of my club and the national team.

– After the Nations League games, you were given some rest before the preparations. Could you relax, or did you think a lot about the four games in June?
– I spent 10 days of rest with my family and my girlfriend, but I didn't have a day when I didn't recall the experiences I had with the national team. We have achieved fantastic results, and it is perhaps no exaggeration to say that we have also entered the history of Hungarian football.

– Was the four-nil win over England a topic in Fenerbahçe's dressing room?
– Of course! In the first training session of the preparation, all my teammates welcomed me with the topic of the match against England. Just like the whole world, they were amazed at the result, and the professional staff congratulated the national team on its performance.

– What is the secret that the national team is put together so well?
– It's a very complex question, but when we talk about it, we end up talking about team unity. All the players fight until the last minute for the title and the teammates, we play with this mentality in every game. However, it is important to keep this level because you can always improve in football. Despite the results, we make mistakes, and it will be important to correct them. We need to accentuate our strengths even more.

– A year from now, what would you like to talk about?
– For example, we won the Süper Lig with Fenerbahçe and also reached the group stage of the Champions League, in which we also performed well. If I can add that we continued our good performance with the national team, then it will be a pretty good conversation.

Translated by Vanda Orosz