Why aren’t Hungary a footballing powerhouse anymore?


Hungary’s national team in the early 1950s, the Magical Magyars, were one of the greatest national teams to be ever assembled. The only game that they lost between 14th May 1950 to 19th February 1956 was the 1954 World Cup final, now immortalised as the “Miracle of Bern.” This once great footballing nation has failed to qualify for the past 8 world cup tournaments. What has happened to Hungarian football?



Hungarian football had a firm rise in the 1930s, with the national team reaching the 1938 world cup final in France. They eventually lost of winners Italy, 4-2

But their golden generation started in the 1950s. The Hungarian team of the 1950s, “the Aranycsapat” are attributed to have been the creators of “Total Football.” Bolstering the likes of Footballing greats like, FerencPuskas, NandorHidegkuti, Sandor Kocsis, Zoltan Czibor, JozsefBozsik and GyulaGrosics. They were managed by innovative coach Gustav Sebes

In the 1954 world cup, they lost to a West German side which they had beaten 8-3 in the group stages. This loss, is considered as one of the greatest upsets in football history. Hungary would never hit the same heights again.

Upto the late 1980s, they were still a respectable national side. Winning silver at the 1972 Olympics. The real downfall started with the fall of communism in the country in 1989.

*Der Untergang:

After the end of the communist regime, Hungarian football came to a standstill. The football league and major clubs like Ferencvaros, Budapest Honved, Ujpestetc faced financial problems. They no longer had the appropriate facilities and talent production halted. The quality of the next generation Hungarian talent weren’t up to par.

The lack of talented individuals accelerated the downfall of the national team. The Hungarians have not entered a single world cup since 1986 and their most prestigious club Ferencvaros, recently played in the 2nd division due to financial troubles.

The fall of Communism and the subsequent downfall of Ferencvaros, the club which supplied the national team with players, can be attributed as the main reason behind Hungary’s decline as a footballing powerhouse.

*The hope:

Zoltan Varga, a leading player of the 60s and a coach in the 90s said to Daily Nemzeti Sport that the demotion of Ferencvaros could be good for the club.

Hungary National Team

He said,

“The team will have a nice rest in the second division. I reckon it will only have good effects in the club, now it can get rid of the scroungers.”

Recently, Hungary have started to make a comeback in the footballing world. They qualified for the 2016 Euros, ending a 44 year old European drought. The emergence of talents like Dominik Szoboszlai, Roland Sallai and Adam Nagy along with veterans like Willi Orban, Adam Szalai and Peter Gulacsi means the national team currently have their strongest group of players in recent memory.

It looks highly unlikely that Hungary will ever match their success in the early and mid 20th century but you never know what might happen in the unpredictable world of football. But one thing is certain, history will always remember the Magical Magyars.

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