|Ádám Szalai will play for the last time against Italy (Photo: Károly Árvai)|
"I planned this press conference a little differently. After all these years, as team captain, I felt I deserved not to have news released a few hours before the announcement. The only reason I'm still sitting here is for our fans, who I hope will continue to support us in the same way in the future. Obviously, you've already leaked all the news, but now I'm confirming that I'll be ending my national team career after the match against Italy. It's not new as I've been looking for the right time for the last weeks and months for it," Ádám Szalai began.
"At almost thirty-five years old, I feel that the national team is on the right track, and the national team head coach is taking the team in the right direction. After the Nations League, our next international match is in March, a qualifier for the European Championship. I wanted to find a date that would allow the team to prepare for finding my successor," said the captain who explained the timing of his decision.
"It was a huge dream of mine to play for the Hungarian national team. My biggest dream was to make it happen. To be able to play in two European Championships and be part of it as captain was a huge experience for me. The successes and failures of the past few years and the criticism and support I have received at bad times have all helped me grow up," he said before going on to list at length who he owes a debt of gratitude to.
"Thanks go to everyone who supported us, the captains we had the chance to work with, the players we had the chance to play with, and the fans without whom the team would not be performing the way it is now. We had matches where the fans created a sensational atmosphere, an atmosphere that I think is unique in the world. With them, there was always a sense of unity and patriotism. I hope the national team will continue on this path, I want us to focus on the two games, I don't want this to be any kind of farewell."
About a month ago, Szalai informed the national team's professional staff of his intention to retire. He announced his decision to his teammates on Monday.
Marco Rossi paid his respects with this picture
After Ádám Szalai, head coach Marco Rossi was up next taking the floor in a sad mood.
"When Ádám announced that he was leaving the national team, I had a lot on my mind. I've thought a lot about the situation since he told me his decision. It's not a happy moment either from a personal point of view or from the national team's. I'm not in the same mood as I was three months ago after the away game against England. I hope we can get over it. The good memories will remain. I understand his decision, even if it is a big problem for us," the captain revealed.
"His best moments were as captain of the national team, and during the worst ones, he was not with us - I'm thinking of the defeats against Albania when he was absent due to injury and surgery. I respect his decision. In football, tactics and technique are important, but the psychological aspect is also important. Ádám was a player who could always be counted on as a leader. This ability does not come naturally, but he was recognized by everyone in the team."
Rossi spoke about the selection of Ádám Szalai's successor. He said that the decision will be in the hands of the players in the first round as they will have to accept a new leader. However, he also stressed that the final decision will be in his hands.
"Nobody is irreplaceable in life, but it will be difficult to find his successor, even though I trust every guy I invite to the squad in the future. Once again, the team is losing an extraordinary person. I knew he would be someone who would be criticized from the first day I started working on the national team bench. I got criticism for it, but all I can always say is that anyone who is that negative is only hurting themselves."
According to him, Szalai's successor will be chosen after the Nations League matches. For now, they are fully focused on the matches ahead.
"We will do our best again this time to give our best against Germany and Italy. I always say that the most important thing is to respect the jersey. If we have that, we will have a chance this time, too. We know how strong opponents we are facing. In his last two games, Ádám will continue to be the team's captain with the same respect and dedication. On behalf of everyone, we wish him a good farewell. The best thing for him as a striker would be to score a goal."
ÁDÁM SZALAI IN THE NATIONAL TEAM
Ádám Szalai made his debut for the Hungarian national team on February 11, 2009 (when Erwin Koeman was the national team coach), as a player for Real Madrid Castilla. He came on in the 84th minute at the preparation match that they lost 1-0 to Israel. He made his competitive match debut in September 2010 in the European Championship qualifier against Moldova when Hungary won 2-1 at home under Sándor Egervári. A month later, also in the European Championship qualifier, he was a starter for the first time against San Marino scoring a hat trick in the 8-0 win.
On February 29, 2012, he returned to the national team after almost a year of resting due to an injury and scored against the Bulgarians right away. In September, the World Cup Brazil 2014 qualifiers started, and he scored against Andorra and Türkiye.
On August 28, 2014, the newly appointed national team head coach, Attila Pintér, announced the national team squad, of which Szalai was not a member. Shortly afterwards, he said that as long as Pintér was in charge of the team, he did not wish to be available to the national team. Pintér led the national team for five matches, and the first squad announced by Pál Dárdai, who replaced him as acting captain, included Ádám Szalai again.
He helped the team in eight clashes in the historic 2014-2015 European Championship qualifiers, and, in the first match at the continental tournament in France, he scored the first goal in an unforgettable 2-0 win against Austria.
He started the 2018 World Cup qualifying series with five goals in six games, and later, he scored in the qualifying round of the 2020 European Championship in Budapest in a 2-1 win over Croatia, the World Cup silver medalist of 2018.
He scored Hungary's only goal in a preparation match against Uruguay (1-2) on the occasion of the inauguration of the rebuilt Puskás Aréna.
He first wore the captain's armband on September 8, 2018, in the Nations League match against Finland, and has worn it 25 times since then.
His last appearance for the national team was on June 14 in a historic 4-0 victory at home to England. Szalai has had 84 caps so far, scored 25 goals, and made assists 5 times.Translated by Vanda Orosz