|Martin Ádám is ready for action (Photo: Ulsan Hyundai FC) CLICK ON PICTURE TO OPEN GALLERY!|
– Did you enjoy the photo shoot?
– Yes! – said Martin Ádám, the 27-year-old striker who signed from Paks to Ulsan Hyundai, the South Korean league leader in the summer. – The photos were taken in the biggest shipyard in the world, so I can say I was in a serious place. I don't like the spotlight, but this was good! But of course, that doesn't mean that I'm going to be seen non-stop from now on because I came here to play football.
– You arrived in Ulsan on Wednesday last week. What are your first impressions?
– Everything is very good. We are in a beautiful place, my wife, son, and I are having a great time. It's true that the seven-hour time difference meant that the first day or two were a bit of a bumpy ride, with the baby sleeping during the day and staying up at night, basically he dictated when we sleep. Being awake at dawn had its advantages: at least I got to see the cup matches of the Hungarian teams...
– Are you still a guest at one of the hotels there?
– No, we moved into our apartment this weekend. The training center is twenty minutes away, the stadium thirty.
– Does a driver drop you off and pick you up?
– Not at all! I drive. Despite Ulsan being South Korea's seventh most populated city, it's not congested and there are no traffic jams. The traffic is good, but the drivers seem a bit impatient, sometimes even honking at me at red lights.
– Could it be because of your popularity?
– Oh, no! I'm not well known around here, hardly anyone has asked for a signature so far. Maybe if I score thirty-one goals here, more people will stop me.
– The report on the photo shoot mentioned above wrote that you signed autographs after autographs.
– That was true, but we can attribute that to the fact that there are a lot of workers in that huge factory... Of course, I was happy that they came to me.
Martin Ádám will wear the Ulsan Hyundai jersey for the first time on Saturday at the Ulsan Munsu Football Stadium, which can accommodate 43 554 spectators. The stadium was built between 1998 and 2001 and was one of the venues for the 2002 World Cup, hosting two group matches and a quarterfinal. It's rarely full these days, Ulsan's home games attract an average of 6,142 fans – maybe a goal or two from Martin Ádám will boost the interest.
– Do you feel appreciated at the club?
– The reception has been very warm. Everything I had heard before I arrived here quickly convinced me that I was at a professional club in every respect, and the conditions were perfect. They really pay attention to everything, and after one of the training sessions, we had a meal together with special cooking for the foreign players in case they weren't keen on Asian cuisine. My new teammates are also keen to help me settle in as quickly as possible, and they help me in any way they can. There's a Brazilian and a Georgian footballer at Ulsan, and we talk to them most of the time, but as many of the others can speak English too, I can talk to almost everyone.
– Have you tried learning Korean?
– That's going to be hard to get used to... I think I'll stick with English.
– Did head coach Hong Myung Bo outline what he would like to see from you?
– I've noticed that he's not the type to talk to the players one on one. He puts the team's interest first. I don't have a problem with him not sitting down with me individually, I know what is expected of me.
– Are the training sessions different from those in Hungary?
– Different, but not brutally hard. They are not that long, we usually finish in an hour and fifteen minutes. But the intensity is high, similar to the national team's. From the first minute to the last, training is very active with no stopping until the very end. I can handle it all the way, which shows that I'm in good shape.
– Does this mean you can already make your debut on Saturday against Gangwon?
– I hope so! Even if not as a starter, I'd like to come on as a substitute. We have a busy schedule, three games in a week, so I think I'll get a chance in one of them. Of course, the best thing would be if I could play in all three matches. After the national team matches in June, I had a week off, then I prepared with the second team of Paks, and a week ago I started training here. If our head coach thinks I'm ready for the pitch, I'm ready for action!
– How do you see the in-house competition?
– There are rivals in every team to fight for playing time. It's no different here, no problem. I believe I can fight for my place in the starting eleven.
– If I am not mistaken, so far you have only mapped the team, not the city.
– We haven't had time to do much, we've only been to one or two nice places. It's actually quite impressive that there are so many parks and green spaces in Ulsan. If we have a day or two off, we'll hit the town, but looking at the schedule, we won't have much free time in the near future. One-third of the regular season is still left, then we have the playoffs, while we're also competing in the South Korean Cup. We lead the table by five points and have two home games, which would be nice to win before we travel to third-placed Jeonbuk.
– To the champions of the last five seasons...
– But this year, Ulsan wants to be the champion.