By Márton Dinnyés
This season was a triumph for Hungary's provincial clubs. MFC Sopron trounced Budapest giants Ferencvárosi TC 5-1 to win the Hungarian Cup while Debreceni VSC celebrated winning the league for the first time in their history last week.
That means two more places for provincial Hungarian clubs in Europe next season, and as Sopron and Debrecen head for the UEFA Cup and UEFA Champions League qualifiers respectively, they will be hoping to emulate the successes of Videoton FC Fehérvár in the 1984/85 UEFA Cup.
While sides from the Hungarian capital, Budapest, had long played major roles in European club football, Videoton set a new mark for provincial teams, as they followed a third-placed finish in 1983/84 with a run which took them all the way to the UEFA Cup final.
The Székesfehérvár-based team, led by coach Ferenc Kovács, started their European campaign in September 1984 with little or no expectations. Nevertheless, József Szabó scored the only goal in 180 minutes of football against Czechoslovakia's FK Dukla Praha to put them in the second round.
Their second-round opponents, French giants Paris Saint-Germain FC, promised to be much tougher, making it all the more surprising when 'Vidi' produced an exceptional performance to win 4-2 in the first leg at the Parc des Princes, with Szabó and Ferenc Csongrádi both scoring twice.
The second leg saw two triumphs for Videoton. The home side were leading 2-0 in Székesfehérvár before the match was cancelled due to heavy fog, but even a replay could not save PSG. Once more, Videoton won 1-0 to set up a meeting with Yugoslavian giants FK Partizan.
Four for Szabó
Videoton's third consecutive opponents from a capital city proved to be little threat to them, however. The Sóstói stadium erupted in the first leg as Szabó scored twice as the home side won 5-0 against Partizan. A 2-0 defeat in the return leg was a minor inconvenience as they lined up a plum quarter-final tie.
Manchester United FC were not at their peak in the mid-1980s, but were still expected to overcome the Hungarians after winning 1-0 at Old Trafford. However, after Tibor Witman's free-kick levelled the scores back in Hungary, Videoton progressed to the semi-final after a penalty shoot-out.
There they met another team from Yugoslavia, FK Zeljeznicar - who are now giants in the independent Bosnia-Herzegovina. It was an unexpectedly tough tie for the all-Hungarian team, as they lost 2-1 away but won 3-1 at home to book a final meeting with Real Madrid CF.
Madrid, however, proved to be too hot to handle. The side which had previously showcased the talents of Hungarian hero Ferenc Puskás won the first leg of the final at the Sóstói 3-0, with home fans generously giving them a standing ovation at full time.
Back from injury, a solitary goal from Lajos Májer gave Videoton a 1-0 win in front of 90,000 fans in the return leg at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium, but could not prevent Madrid winning the tie. Nor indeed could they maintain the same form in subsequent season.
With the collapse of communism, the Videoton company which ran the club went bankrupt. Their name lived on for a while, before the club was renamed Fehérvár FC. None the less, the golden boys of 1984/85 have not been forgotten. Sometimes, as football fans in Székesfehérvár like to recall, the smallest dogs can have the biggest bite.
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