Hungary have qualified for the FIFA World Cup™ on nine occasions, although the Magyars’ last appearance at football’s showpiece tournament came back at Mexico 1986. Since then the Eastern Europeans have struggled to reproduce their former glories, most recently losing out to Denmark and Portugal in qualifying for South Africa 2010.
FIFA World Cup finals history
Hungary’s golden age at international level stretched across the middle of the last century. They were runners-up at both France 1938 and Switzerland 1954, losing the last FIFA World Cup Final before the start of the Second World War to Italy and suffering the same fate against Germany 16 years later – despite going into the latter as hot favourites having not lost a game in four years.
In their last three appearances at the tournament, Hungary bowed out in the first round. Their most recent showing at Mexico 1986 produced a group-stage victory over Canada, but defeats to USSR and France sealed their early exit from the competition.
The current crop
Hungary’s 1950s supremacy may have diminished, but results in recent years have provided plenty of cause of optimism. Indeed, coach Sandor Egervari, who took over the side in July 2010, appears to have struck a useful balance between youth and experience within the team.
While the more established internationals like captain Zoltan Gera, goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly and experienced defender Roland Juhasz bring calm and stability to the side, the likes of Adam Szalai, Balasz Dzsuzsak and Tamas Priskin are emerging as exciting prospects at international level.
The key players
Captain Zoltan Gera is Hungary’s standout player. The attacking midfielder is the control centre of the team, not to mention a constant goal threat. Balazs Dzsudzsak is another consistently impressive performer and has already amassed a considerable amount of experience in spite of his tender years. In attack, Gergely Rudolf’s penalty-box prowess has proven invaluable at times, while young striker Adam Szalai is another hugely promising talent.
Best performances in a FIFA competition: Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Helsinki 1952, Tokyo 1964, Mexico City 1968 (Winners), FIFA World Cup France 1938, Switzerland 1954 (Runners-up), FIFA U-20 World Cup Egypt 2009 (Third place)
Former stars: Jozsef Bozsik, Ferenc Puskas, Sandor Kocsis