PSV Eindhoven frontman Balazs Dzsudzsak has come a long way since he spent his childhood chasing balls around the Hungarian village of Nyirlugos. “My mum always tells people I started kicking a football as soon as I could walk,” Dzsudzsak said.
Top scorer for the Dutch giants last season with 14 goals, Dzsudzsak retains a youthful innocence to go with his blonde hair and easy smile, but now he is showing the maturity that was the only thing lacking in his formative years playing as a left winger for Hungarian club Debrecen.
Dzsudzsak, whose mother is a teacher and whose father works as a football coach, is finally reaping the rewards of dedicating himself to improving his craft. Sitting at a table at PSV’s training ground, the 24-year-old revealed to FIFA.com the reasons behind what he describes as “the best season" of his career.
"I’m not a different player, but I have changed,” he said. “I’m calmer and more focused now. I’ve spent a lot of time talking to my agent, my family and the manager to get rid of the distractions that were stopping me from really taking things to the next level.”
Play, develop and dream
Last season’s breakthrough performances for PSV proved to be a prelude to Dzsudzsak’s consistent current campaign, which he hopes will finish with a title. "This time around I’m first-choice and I want to prove that I can make a real difference,” he explained. His stats are nothing but encouraging, and with three rounds of matches remaining, the 2010 Hungarian Player of the Year has 15 goals and 13 assists to his name. “I’m steadier and more consistent, which also explains the interest from other European clubs,” said Dzsudzsak.
After finishing 2007 as the best player in Hungary’s top flight, Dzsudzsak chose PSV Eindhoven as the launchpad for his career among the European elite. He describes the move as “intelligent”, and one he hopes will send a clear message to aspiring Hungarian youngsters. “When you’re young, the most important thing is to be playing and developing,” he explained. “There are loads of good youngsters in Hungary, but many of them leave the country too soon and go to the wrong clubs.”
It would be great to play in Spain. I’d even say it’s my dream. But to go there just to warm the bench or not be part of the squad, well that wouldn’t be a very clever move.
"It would be great to play in Spain. I’d even say it’s my dream. But to go there just to warm the bench or not be part of the squad, well that wouldn’t be a very clever move,” he added. “Here, I knew that if I worked hard I would get the chance to play and be part of the first team. The Eredivisie is the ideal league in which to grow and develop when you’re young.”
Hungary are third in their qualifying group for UEFA EURO 2012, but the team’s cause has not been helped by the inability of certain key players to make a mark at club level. Dzsudzsak believes the national side can only make a step up with a squad that goes into matches with momentum and confidence. “Sometimes that’s not the case and it’s a shame, because we’ve proved that we can play good football when everyone is 100 per cent,” said Dzsudzsak, who has become the focal point of national coach Sandor Egervari’s attacking system.
Balancing defence and attack
Erwin Koeman’s successor has wasted no time in putting his own stamp on the squad, most notably by selecting players from Hungary’s local talent pool. “Many players have retired from international duty, so the coach has had to look for solutions elsewhere. Now, it’s not only overseas-based players who get to play,” said Dzsudzsak, who featured in both of Hungary’s recent losses to 2010 FIFA World Cup™ runners-up the Netherlands.
“We were outplayed in the first match,” said Dzsudzsak, a three-time winner of the Hungarian league with Debrecen. "The second was a big improvement, but the result highlighted our lack of experience. When you score three goals away from home, you’ve got to come away with at least a point. Our problem is that we can’t defend and attack simultaneously – we end up choosing one or the other."
“We learned a lot from those games. We’ll need to draw on the experience to help us beat San Marino, before going into the crucial matches against Finland and Sweden,” he added. “The new president of the Hungarian Football Federation says our main target is the 2014 FIFA World Cup, which instantly takes away a lot of pressure. That said, I don’t like anything that removes the sense of duty to win games.”