MATCHDAY PROGRAMME

How “Szoboszlai mania” has gripped Hungary’s new wave of Liverpool supporters

The £60 million signing of Dominik Szoboszlai was Liverpool’s biggest of the summer and was greeted with plenty of excitement on Merseyside, but that was nothing compared to the fanfare it received back home.

Hungary’s captain was one of four midfield acquisitions by Jurgen Klopp ahead of the 2023/24 campaign, with the manager carrying out his biggest-ever rebuild in the middle of the park.

Szoboszlai wasn’t the subject of as much speculation as other targets, with the Reds moving quickly to trigger a release clause in his contract shortly before its expiry at the end of June.

Having recently led his country to qualification for Euro 2024, the 23-year-old has cemented his position as the current face of Hungarian football.

This is no more evident than among supporters back in his home country, where “Szoboszlai mania” has taken over, as coined by Hungarian football expert Bence Bocsak.

We spoke to Bence (@BenBocsak) about the impact the move has had, his status in the sport in Hungary and plenty more!

 

As Hungary captain, how was Szoboszlai’s move perceived back in his home country and has it impacted interest in Liverpool games?

2T22MKD BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - OCTOBER 14: Dominik Szoboszlai of Hungary celebrates during the UEFA EURO 2024 European qualifier match between Hungary and Serbia (Sebastian Frej / Alamy Stock Photo)

There has been so much excitement. It was probably the biggest news story of the year. Everyone was following it, it was Szoboszlai mania truly. Even your grandma was talking about it!

Of course, every game is broadcast on television. Everyone is watching the Liverpool games now.

Most Hungarians have become Liverpool fans to some extent because of him. It was the same at Leipzig – although we have two more international players there.

 

He made an excellent start to life at Anfield, how important do you think he can be in Jurgen Klopp’s midfield?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 30, 2023: Liverpool's Dominik Szoboszlai during the FA Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I think he makes things tick with his pressing off the ball. But I also think there’s a lot more to come from him in terms of his ability on the ball.

We’ve seen his shooting range in flashes and his creativity as well, but there will be a lot more to come.

In terms of what he can achieve in the next five years, the answer would be everything!

The sky is the limit for him – both for club and country.

 

Still only 23, where does he rank among the best Hungarian players of recent years?

2PHGGY2 BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - MARCH 27: Dominik Szoboszlai of Hungary reacts during the UEFA EURO 2024 qualifying round group B match between Hungary and Bulgaria at Puskas Arena on March 27, 2023 in Budapest, Hungary.

He’s the best by a long mile. The best probably since the 1980s when Lajos Detari was playing. Or maybe even before that – going back to the likes of Florian Albert who won a Ballon d’Or.

He’s been a leader from a young age.

Even as a 16-year-old he was wearing the armband at U17 level for the national team and scored a last-minute winner to qualify Hungary for the U17 Euros against Erling Haaland’s Norway.

Since then, he’s always had to step up and he’s done it in every single team. He leads by example on the pitch, and he’s an inspiration to many.

I remember speaking to a few of his international team-mates and they were telling me just how much confidence he gives all of them when he’s on the pitch.

 

Finally, how much more of a hero has he become since helping secure Euro 2024 qualification?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, January 1, 2024: Dominik Szoboszlai during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

He was already a hero before that!

He’s already qualified us for Euro 2020. I would say that achievement and his last-minute goal against Iceland in the last play-off back in 2020 was the moment that made him a hero.

Now we just expect him to do special stuff so this time around it wasn’t anything new.


• Thanks again to Bence Bocsak for his insight. Follow Bence on Twitter @BenBocsak.