Balázs Dzsudzsák could be the only record holder (Photo: Hédi Tumbász)

 

The national team will close the year with two preparation matches, the Hungarian Football Federation (MLSZ) announced on its official website. The national team will play in Luxembourg on November 17, and three days later, on November 20, they will play their last match of the year against Greece at home. Although the match at the Puskás Arena coincides with the first day of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, it is still possible to hold a preparation match during the opening day as FIFA has subsequently brought forward the first match (Qatar-Ecuador) of the tournament by one day. As is customary, ticket sales for the November preparation match will start roughly a month before the matches, with Fan Club members again having the opportunity to buy tickets at a discounted rate.

ALL-TIME CAPS
1. Balázs Dzsudzsák and Gábor Király 108 
 3. József Bozsik 101
4. Zoltán Gera 97
 5. Roland Juhász 95
 6. László Fazekas 92
7. Gyula Grosics 86
 8. Ferenc Puskás 85
 9. Ádám Szalai 84
10. Imre Garaba 82

"Every year the squad has little time to spend together because the club teams have a very busy schedule both at home and abroad, so every extra day we have together is of paramount importance," Marco Rossi told mlsz.hu. "In this respect, the November meeting will be important, and it will also be an excellent opportunity to give a chance to youngsters who have been knocking on the door of the national team for a while. And if they continue to work and perform well, they could soon become regular squad members. We want to gauge what they are capable of and where they stand in the international team field."

It would not be a surprise if there was increased interest in the competitive game against the Greeks. According to our newspaper - and confirmed by sources close to MLSZ - 108-capped Balázs Dzsudzsák will play in the November preparation match, thus overtaking Gábor Király, the current co-leader in the standings, as the only player with the highest number of caps. It is a telling sign that the 35-year-old Debrecen midfielder made his debut for the Hungarian national team against Greece on June 2, 2007, and scored his first goal in his ninth national team appearance, also against Greece on May 24, 2008.

The former national team captain was a player in many memorable matches, from his winning goal scored in the 94th minute against Finland at the European Championship qualifier to his superb free-kick goal against Romania in Bucharest (2014, 1-1) and his two goals against Portugal (3-3) at the 2016 European Championship. His last appearance for the national team was on November 11, 2019, and it is a bad memory as Wales defeated Hungary 2-0 in the away match in the European Championship qualifier. He has not been in the squad since.

After the Cardiff match, Hungarian national team head coach Marco Rossi almost resigned, but he didn't. Instead, he put the team on a new foundation and changed his selection principles, and - among others - Balázs Dzsudzsák held the sack, who was still playing for al-Ittihad Kalba in the Emirates. In any case, the Italian coach's decision was right as the national team qualified for the continental tournament, even earned points against France and Germany at the 2020 European Championship – of which the group matches were also played in Budapest - and topped their group in Nations League A, thanks in part to back-to-back wins over European Championship finalist England.

After Balázs Dzsudzsák returned to his then NB II club in Debrecen in September 2020, Marco Rossi said that he has the principles on which he will base the squad, but he will also monitor the player's performance because he wants to give him the opportunity to be the only one to set the Hungarian national team record. Perhaps it was this statement that, at every squad announcement, led fans to think that the coach might include Loki's star player (especially after his team's promotion to the topflight), but that has not happened.

"Balázs Dzsudzsák didn't get an invitation this time either, that's true. However, I would like to make it clear that whoever suspects that I have a personal problem with him is wrong," Marco Rossi said about Balázs Dzsudzsák at the announcement of the squad for the World Cup qualifiers against England, Albania, and Andorra in August 2021, when asked by our newspaper. “I respect what he has achieved so far in his career - both in his clubs and in the national team. At the same time, everyone is aware that, while he was most useful as a winger in the past, he is now playing as a central midfielder at Debrecen. In the part of midfield where he is playing now, I need footballers of a different type. I need players who not only run a lot but also have the speed required at the international level, while also intercepting a lot of balls. In my opinion, this is a skill that Balázs is lacking a little now. So, the reason why I don't count on him is because of that and nothing else. But it's also true for him what it is for everyone else: I'm not closing the door on anyone."

Balázs Dzsudzsák is known to be passionate about the national team. He has said on several occasions that he would accept not being called up again, but he will do his best to be selected. In an interview with origo.hu, however, he revealed that he is not taking any handouts.

"I have never come to play for the national team to be able to say that I am the player in the history of Hungarian football who has the most caps. I don't live to be the only record holder. In fact, if someone were to put me on the national team once more just out of mercy or pity, so that I could be capped for the 109th time, then, for the first time in my life, I would say I don't want that. Being selected is not a gift."

However, our newspaper believes that the national team will say goodbye to its former captain in the farewell match.

You may recall that there was a lot of press coverage in the summer when the Loki captain hinted at a DVSC fans' meeting that there was a good chance he would play in the national jersey in October. In an article on haon.hu, it was reported that the player had been promised a 109th cap for the national team in October.

"I didn't want to trigger anything. I'm over this part, I'm concentrating on Debrecen, the national team is doing great, not to mention the head coach," he told M4 Sport at the end of July. “At the fans' conference, I only mentioned that I hope to play that farewell match one day, but that's not my motivation. I'm motivated by making a lasting impression and being loyal to Debrecen, and the fans should see me fighting as captain, that's the minimum."

Being hopeful does not seem to be in vain: in two and a half months, Balázs Dzsudzsák will be back on the Hungarian national team for a farewell match, which could be the end of a great period.

Translated by Vanda Orosz