Elek out to revive Videoton glories
It was the 1984/85 season when Videoton, based in the Hungarian city of Szekesfehervar, surprised the whole of Europe by reaching the final of the UEFA Cup, beating the likes of Paris Saint Germain, Partizan Belgrade and Manchester United along the way. Only the mighty Real Madrid were able to stop the underdogs at the final hurdle.
"It's impossible to compare the team back then with that of today because the football was completely different," said Videoton midfielder Akos Elek in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com. "Of course I've seen footage of those games and was particularly impressed by the amazing crowds."
An integral part of the Hungarian league leaders' squad, the 22-year-old spoke of his satisfaction at the way the current season has gone and how his side's success has been met with astonishment in the land of the Magical Magyars. "Things have gone very positively so far. We're top of the table and keeping our competitors at arm's length. We're also confident we can achieve something in the cup," said the 6'3 midfielder, who netted the winner in last Saturday's 2-1 victory over MTK Budapest.
After finishing as runners-up in last year's championship race, Videoton are on course to claim the first national title of their 70-year history. For Elek, the secret to the club's recent success does not lie among the individual talents in the squad, such as 15-goal Andre Alves, but rather in the overall team spirit.
"Every player has an important role to play, so I don't want to single out anyone for individual praise," he said. "Our squad hasn't changed much since last season and we have the same coach in Gyorgy Mezey. Our success is based on team unity. Everyone fights for each another here."
The biggest challenger to Videoton's title bid comes in the form of traditional heavyweights Ferencvaros, who currently rank six points behind the 2006 cup winners in second place. Despite the relatively comfortable advantage, Elek is wary of the threat posed by the capital club.
"I think that Debrecen and particularly Ferencvaros are our biggest rivals for the title. They both have plenty of experience in the championship race and Ferencvaros have made huge progress. Their coach Laszlo Prukner has made the club even stronger and they've recorded some great results recently," said the Hungarian international on the 28-time champions.
Nonetheless, the stats would suggest the current table-toppers are all set to go on and claim their inaugural crown. With 18 matches played, Videoton have won more games (12) and scored more goals (35) than anyone else in the league and boast the best defensive record with just 17 conceded.
"We're desperate to become Hungarian champions," Elek told FIFA.com. "We're still in the cup as well, so we're in a great position to win the double. We're going to have to take things one step at a time though."
Unsurprisingly, the defensive midfielder's excellent performances in the Soproni Liga resulted in a call-up to the Hungarian national squad last year, though Elek remains highly self-critical of his own displays as he aims to further develop his game.
"I've played some good games and some bad ones. We're only human and our performances fluctuate. I'm never really satisfied because I feel I can always improve. I'm constantly working hard at my game," said the eight-time international before revealing his Magyar dream.
"Qualifying for the European Championship or the World Cup with the national team would be a huge success. We're not the favourites in our group and certainly not for the game against the Netherlands," said Elek as the interview concluded, in reference to the sides' UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier on 25 March. "If we can get a point, that would be a success for us. We've got nothing to lose."