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Bozsik thrives in family business

Published: Friday 16 August 2002, 11.18CET
Zalaegerszegi TE coach Péter Bozsik is building a reputation to match his famous father's.
by Márton Dinnyés
from Budapest

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Published: Friday 16 August 2002, 11.18CET

Bozsik thrives in family business

Zalaegerszegi TE coach Péter Bozsik is building a reputation to match his famous father's.

"David sometimes beats Goliath." Those were the words of Péter Bozsik, coach of Hungarian champions Zalaegerszegi TE, after their shock 1-0 defeat of Manchester United FC on Wednesday night.

Unlikely celebration
It was a dream result for the underdogs on a night where the past and present of Hungarian football seemed to meld in an unlikely celebration. This was the first match at the former Népstadion since 2 April and its official renaming as the Ferenc Puskás stadium.

Father and son
It was not the first memorable victory over English opposition witnessed by this old stadium, though - it was here that Hungary beat England 7-1 in front of 102,000 spectators in 1954. Playing for Hungary that day were both Puskás and his childhood friend, József Bozsik, father of Zalaegerszeg's present-day coach Péter.

Making his mark
Bozsik senior won 101 caps for the Hungarian national team. His son may resemble his father physically but, in football, it is as a coach that he is making his mark. Take Bozsik's comments before the match, which proved somewhat prescient. "Our aim is to keep hold of the ball as much as we can and slow down the game," he said. "I think a 1-0 or a 2-1 victory will be a good result for everyone."

Spectacular reward
As plans go, it unfolded almost to perfection. Zalaegerszeg had sufficient possession to slow down the tempo, while also getting forward whenever possible. To cap it all, Bozsik's decision to send on Under-21 international striker Béla Koplárovics as a late substitute reaped spectacular reward. The young player, who is not a regular in the NB I yet, struck just seven minutes after coming on. Yet the victory earned a measured reaction from Bozsik.

'Five per cent chance'
"Before the game I gave the team a two per cent chance to beat a big-name club like Manchester United," he said. "But we have done it. The boys played fantastically well and fought hard for the well deserved win. Our only chance was to slow down the play and make quick counterattacks. We needed a little fortune as well to be frank. Now I give us a four or five per cent chance of going through." Such is the manner of the modest Bozsik, who also singled out the contributions of Ferenc Babati, Flórián Urbán and Zsolt Csóka.

Bozsik senior
Bozsik's father is considered the most intelligent midfield creator Hungary has produced. József was an Olympic gold medallist in 1952 and FIFA World Cup runner-up two years later, but he failed to repeat that success as a coach. He had a spell in charge of Kispest Honvéd FC and coached the Hungarian national team for a single match, a 1-0 defeat in Austria in 1974, before retiring because of illness.

Found his calling
Péter - whose son József is a promising midfield player - did not reach the top level himself as a player, but he eventually found his calling as player-coach in the Hungarian second division. After leading Vasas SC to third place in the NB I in 2001, he moved to Zalaegerszeg and led them to the title last season. Victory over Croatia's NK Zagreb in the second qualifying round earned the tie against United and suddenly Zalaegerszeg's fans are dreaming of reaching the group stages.

Past, present and future
Such has been Bozsik's quick rise to prominence as a coach he has not yet had the time to get the UEFA 'A' licence that is required in the NB I. But the Bozsik name represents both the past and the future of Hungarian football. The past is József, who died in 1978, the present Peter, and the future the'Bozsik Programme', an educational programme set up as a joint initiative between the Hungarian Football Federation and the government. Whatever the outcome at Old Trafford on Wednesday week, the Bozsik name is not going to go away.

Last updated: 02/02/12 4.41CET

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