Ninety-year-old Gyorgy Szepesi is not only Hungary’s oldest active sports reporter but also a living legend, famously known as “the voice of Hungarian football." His show is still broadcast without fail every Wednesday at 19:05.
On 4 July 1954 he was a radio reporter for the FIFA World Cup™ Final between Hungary and West Germany in Bern. He cried at the end of the game and even today is able to explain why he, and many of his countrymen, are still reduced to tears when the topic of the famous 3-2 defeat is brought up.
Hungary used to be the dominant force in world football. They won the 1952 Men's Olympic Football Tournament in Helsinki and had Ferenc Puskas, the best player in the world at the time. Alongside him, Nandor Hidegkuti, Jozsef Bozsik and Sandor Kocsis were also geniuses on the ball. Nobody thought defeat to West Germany was possible.
On the face of it, the Final at Bern’s Wankdorf Stadium was just like any other international match. However, the West Germans' 3-2 victory has become a symbol for the fate of both countries - a metaphor for the future of two nations with contrasting systems.
“Over, over, over! The game is over! Germany are world champions,” screamed Herbert Zimmermann, the German radio commentator at the Final. By contrast, Szepesi did not say anything at all. Even today he finds it a difficult topic to talk about and has to pause to wipe a tear from his eye. According to Szepesi, FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, who was 18 at the time, was cheering for Hungary to win.
He is a true gentleman and I’d like to both congratulate and thank him for everything he has done for football.
That was just one of many anecdotes the FIFA President and Szepesi recalled when they met at the FIFA Congress on Thursday 24 May 2012 in Budapest. Blatter names Szepesi as one of the greatest figures in the football world and the pair’s friendship, borne out of mutual respect, has stood the test of time.
Just yesterday, Szepesi informed his listeners about the history of the FIFA Congress. It is the third time the Hungarian capital has hosted the event, having previously done so in 1909 and 1930. In the past, the delegates arrived by boat along the Donau river. Nowadays they use much faster means of transport and Szepesi too has moved with the times.
The Hungarian edition of the football magazine ‘Four Four Two’ ran with Szepesi as its lead article, including pictures of the reporter with his friend Puskas, as well as the Pope, Pele and countless stories from his life.
Szepesi is a veritable football encyclopaedia. From 1975-1978 the polyglot worked as a journalist in Bonn, but “then the sports minister phoned me and said I should come home”, said the nonagenarian, who had wanted to spend six years in Germany.
However, the Hungarian Football Association needed a new President and Szepesi accepted the post, which he held for eight years. It was during this time that he got to know FIFA President Blatter. From 1982-1995 Szepesi was a member of the FIFA Executive Committee and has been an honorary FIFA member since 16 June 1994.
Much to the delight of the President of world football's governing body, Szepesi will take part in the congress in Budapest. “It’s always a pleasure to see Gyorgy Szepesi,” said Blatter. “He is a true gentleman and I’d like to both congratulate and thank him for everything he has done for football.”