Ferencvárosi TC, Hungary's largest and most successful club, inaugurated their state-of-the-art 'smart' stadium in Budapest on Sunday evening as Zoltán Gera scored the first goal at the new arena against José Mourinho's Chelsea FC.
A crowd of more than 20,000 saw Thomas Doll's team run Chelsea close, last season's UEFA Champions League semi-finalists recovering from Gera's first-half volley to win 2-1 through a spectacular Ramires strike and a fine solo effort from Cesc Fàbregas.
"The stadium is wonderful, I really liked the atmosphere," Mourinho said. "I hope Ferencváros can use this as a stepping stone since it would be fitting if the biggest and best teams appear here in the international cups."
Gera, back after ten years in England with West Bromwich Albion FC and Fulham FC, was delighted to have registered the venue's first official goal. "To score the stadium's first goal against such illustrious opponents is a great feeling. I hope to score in our league matches too, but for now it feels great to play against a top side, to experience such a good team close up."
The Hungary midfielder, a league champion with Ferencváros in 2001 and 2004, added: "The pitch is fantastic, the atmosphere is great, the supporters too. There's a special atmosphere in the stadium and this was just a friendly. I'm curious how it'll be for a big league game when the crowd get going."
Built over 14 months and providing 3,000 jobs during the construction phase, the stadium will not only be the new home of Ferencváros but will also host Hungary's national team for the next four years while the Ferenc Puskás Stadion is rebuilt.
No financial help from UEFA was required, but advisory assistance was given as part of a support system agreed with the Hungarian Football Federation (MLSZ) towards the massive stadium infrastructure development occurring in Hungary under the leadership of the national government. The centrepiece will be the national stadium, the Ferenc Puskás.
Ferencváros's new ground, the third stadium on the Üllői út site which the club have called home since 1911, will have a capacity of 23,700 for domestic matches and 22,000 for international games. Among the facilities are a club museum, restaurant and bistro, parking for 480, full stadium Wi-Fi, 220 LCD TVs and 34 skyboxes.
Fans will enter using the BIOSEC palm-sensor supporter entry system and once inside will be in a cash-free environment aimed at reducing queuing times via a top-up card system. Spectators can also avail themselves of special smartphone stadium applications to enhance their matchday experience.
"We are sure that with the new stadium we can not only guarantee visitors Europe's most modern stadium but also a uniquely safe and comfortable entertainment possibility for supporters. It will be a place where everyone can happily bring their families," said Ferencváros president Gábor Kubatov.
The stadium will take its First League bow when Ferencváros entertain Nyíregyháza FC on 24 August before Hungary welcome Northern Ireland on 7 September in their first UEFA EURO 2016 qualifier.
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