Szabolcs Huszti's UEFA Champions League dream could be just 90 minutes from fruition.
By Marcus Christenson
When Szabolcs Huszti was in his early teens, he used to watch UEFA Champions League games on television in Hungary and dream that he would be stood on the pitch.
Dream coming true
Now, at the age of 21, he is 90 minutes from realising that fantasy. Ferencvárosi TC travel to AC Sparta Praha tonight defending a 1-0 lead from the third qualifying round first leg in Budapest. Huszti, whose two goals at KF Tirana in the previous round were crucial to his side earning a tie against Sparta, is excited by the idea of reaching the group stage.
"When I was a kid I always watched the opening minutes of the games so that I could hear the anthem," Huszti told uefa.com. "But now I have to raise my sights. I don't just want to play one game or one year in this competition. I want to be there every year, that is my aim as a club footballer."
Huszti's second strike in Tirana gave Ferencváros a last-gasp 3-2 win, and that away goal was crucial as they lost the second leg 1-0."That victory was very important for us," he said. "Hungary needs a team in the Champions League. Ferencváros have not played in the competition since 1995/96 and that is too long. I think we have a good chance of qualifying for the group stage."
Sparta progressed beyond the group stage last term, but Huszti is confident Ferencváros can see eliminate the experienced Czech side. He said: "It's early in the season but we have seven international players at the club, four Hungarians and three from abroad, and that has got to be good."
The winger, who can also play on the left side of defence or attack, is one of several young players to benefit from the appointment of Lothar Matthäus as Hungary coach. Huszti had only played eight first team games for Ferencváros when he was called up for the national team in April.
"Matthäus has given Hungarian football a huge boost," said Huszti, who scored twice as the Magyars beat Scotland 3-0 away last week. "He doesn't care what age the player is or what their name is, he just picks the players he thinks should be playing and he has given me a great chance. He is such a legend and he has come here with all his experience and has made us feel a lot more confident about our football."
Group stage chance
Huszti hopes that success with Ferencváros and Hungary will earn him a move to one of Europe's big clubs, possibly in the Premiership. However, a good result tonight, and he will be lining up against some of those teams starting next month.