If one watches the grainy footage of Ferenc Puskás and his Mighty Magyars of the 1950s, it’s fair to say that the current Hungarian team aren’t fit to lace their predecessors’ boots.
Having not appeared in a major tournament for 30 years, Euro 2016 presents untrodden ground for this crop of players who scraped through to the newly expanded competition via a play-off versus Norway. The severe deficiency of tournament experience is also compounded by the lack of any real star player for club or country.
However, manager Bernd Storck’s squad is not without some relatively household names. Trouser-sporting pioneer and ex -Crystal Palace man Gábor Király is still going strong in goal aged 40, managing to keep out Liverpool goalkeepers past and present Péter Gulácsi and Ádám Bogdán. Bursaspor midfielder Balász Dzsudzsák, formerly of Dynamo Moscow and PSV, now captains the team and is indubitably their star player, having played in every qualifying game while fellow playmaker Zoltán Gera was a long-time favourite of the West Bromwich Albion faithful.
But therein lies the problem with this Hungarian team: familiarity is not enough. While Gera and Dzsudzsák have earned relative success and admiration at their respective host of clubs, the rest are remembered purely for just being there. This team qualified by the skin of their teeth in a group where Northern Ireland and Romania progressed automatically; a group propped up by the Faroe Islands and the arguably worst Greece side in living memory; a group that was, with all due respect, incredibly poor.
So what hope is there for Hungary? In truth, not a lot. In a tournament expanded to 24 teams, the odds of them doing something memorable in their first major competition for 30 years are slim indeed. But if this season has taught us anything about predictions, it’s that they’re futile at best. After all, the manager of that aforementioned ‘worst Greece side in living memory’? A certain Claudio Ranieri. And we all know how his story ended.