Written by @transferfeed
When Hungary made it to the Last 16 of the European Championship last summer you may have thought it was one of the country's greatest footballing achievements but they were once, surprisingly, a footballing powerhouse.
Hungary made the World Cup 1938 Final where they faced the holders Italy but unfortunately lost out with the Italians retaining their title after an exciting 4-2 win!
14 years later Hungary found themselves as favourites for the 1954 World Cup as they went into the tournament as current Olympic champions & being led by the best player in the world at that time, Ferenc Puskás it looked like nothing could go wrong. Hungary strolled through the group defeating South Korea 9-0 & West Germany 8-3 with Honvéd star Sándor Kocsis scoring 4 of the 8 goals against the West Germans. The Hungarians then beat 1950 World Cup Runners up Brazil 4-2 in the Quarter Finals with Kocsis scoring a brace, that being his 8th goal of the tournament in just 3 games. South Americans Uruguay gave Hungary a scare in the Semi's with the game levelled at 2-2 it went to extra time. Kocsis came to the rescue once more scoring an Extra Time Second Half brace! Then it came to the final where Hungary came up against West Germany, the team they had dismantled 8-3 in the group stages. They went into the game as heavy favourites but the West Germans managed to pull of "The Miracle of Berne" winning the game 3-2! The Hungary side of the 1950s are now seen as many as the "greatest team to never win a World Cup."
2 years after the World Cup thousands protested in the country's capital of Budapest against Soviet Rule. The USSR sent in "the red army" to deal with the rebellion. Thousands were killed in what is now know as "The Hungarian Uprising." This led to many Hungarian clubs' best talents leaving the country & the national teams stars to stop representing their country. Hungary's greatest ever player, Ferenc Puskás added insult to injury when he got the all clear to play for Spain in the 1962 World Cup. Despite all of this, players like Bozsik & Hidegkuti stayed with the Hungarian national team & their Hungarian clubs.
With a new flock of talented Hungarians coming through they made it to the 1958 World Cup & even made it as far as the Quarter Finals in the 1962 & 1966 World Cup's! They took it one step further in the Euro's making it to the Semi's in 1964 & 1972.
In 1982 Hungary even beat their own record of biggest win in a World Cup match, previously their 9-0 win over South Korea they blew it out of the water in 1982 whilst legendary Hungarian manager Mészöly was at the helm as they beat El Salvador 10-1. Domestic clubs continued to flirt with Europe's elite with MTK Budapest making the final of the European Cup Winners Cup only to lose out to Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon but the following year Ferencvaros managed to win the competition! Ferencvaros won the Inter-Fairs Cup in 1967 defeating AS Roma & Manchester United along the way before, ultimately beating Juventus in the final. Albert was Ferencvaros star player that season with the Hungarian winning the 1967 Ballon D'or!
In 1989 Hungary faced another political crisis. Many thought "if they could face a political crisis in 1956 then they can face it now." They were wrong. With its own ministry, its own minister and government officials, and alas its own budget, sports in Hungary was at an all time low. The communist regime in the country fell apart & Hungarian sport was completely neglected. During the communist regime the government funded sport but without the regime many footballing teams went to ruins [or almost].
In recent times Hungary came close to qualifying for France 98' but lost to Yugoslavia with an aggregate score of 12-1. The last time Hungary qualified for a World Cup was in 1986 & the last time before Euro 2016 they had qualified for a European Championships was 1972. The Hungarian Top Flight or the Nemzeti Bajnokság has attracted foreign players like current Burnley defender Matthew Lowton - who spent a season on loan at Ferencvaros during his time at Sheffield United - & former Italian international Guisseppe Signori who joined MFC Sopron in 2005, at the age of 37. Although all of this, Hungary have never been able to attract the calibre of player they used too & have been unable to produce world class stars anymore.
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Written by @transferfeed
Steaua Bucharest, or as you may know them now as FCSB are the biggest team in Romania having won Liga I a record 29 times, Cupa României a record 22 times, Cupa Ligii a record 2 times, Supercupa României a record 6 times. But the biggest achievement in their history has to be their European Cup triumph in 1986 winning in the final against FC Barcelona. Following their success the European Champions won the 1986 UEFA Super Cup & 1986 Intercontinental Cup. Their former parent club CSA Steaua Bucuresti also claim FCSB's honours between 1947 & 2003 but this is where the confusion just begins.
CSA Steaua where founded in 1947 & are, in theory, also FCSB. They were founded by soldiers of the Romanian Military (hence the nickname "The Military Men"). The clubs footballing department was thought to have separated in 1998 but this was proven false in 2017 by former employee Tica Danilescu. The team re opened their footballing department in July 2017 & currently play in Liga IV - the 4th tier of Romanian football. Sections of FCSB that currently belong to CSA Steaua are Rugby, Ice hockey, Handball - which they have became European champions in twice, Water Polo, youth Basketball, Volleyball, Athletics, Swimming, Gymnastics, Boxing, Rowing, Canoe, Shooting, Weightlifting, Fencing, Tennis, Cycling and Judo.
So now we get onto Steaua Bucharest's name change to FC FCSB. Following a disputes with the Romanian army lasting from around 2014-2017 the club officially changed their name to FCSB in May of this year. The clubs owner Gigi Becali announced in court that the club had lost it's rights to using a military identity. This wasn't the first time the clubs name had been questioned as in 2011 Romanian defence military officers accused the club of using the Steaua Bucharest brand illegally since 2004. Beforehand many names had been thrown about, all of which angered the fans. Names included FC Star & even FC Becali. Before the clubs name change to "FCSB" they had to cover their badge, all signs of their name & change the score board from saying "FC Steaua Bucharest" to simply "Hosts."
The clubs ultras flocked away to support CSA Steaua's new footballing team and Steaua Bucharest's Basketball & Rugby teams as they saw FCSB as not their club but felt CSA Steaua and the Basketball & Rugby teams would never be the same to them.
But Steaua Bucharest isn't the only isn't the only flaw in Romanian football, it has been a complete Riches to Rags story. Not so long ago, in 1998 the Romanians where competing in the World Cup as one of the top nations with world renowned players like Hagi, Popescu, Ilie and Petrescu. Now they'd be lucky to qualify for a tournament of the Balkan nations if it ever was a thing! In more recent times, a 2006 UEFA Cup Quarter Final was contested by 2 Romanian sides: Dinamo Bucharest & Steaua Bucharest but now it's a rare occasion to find a Romanian side making it out of the groups! You come to ask yourself: Where did it all go wrong?
Many of Romania's top sides saw themselves in dire financial positions in the early 2000s with the clubs being owned by fraudulent businessmen, prisoners, tax evaders - the whole lot! This did see fairy tales like Unirea Urziceni first title in 2009 & Oțelul Galați league triumph in 2011 but Urziceni's owner pulled out of investment the following year seeing the club in massive debt & Oțelul Galați's owner pocketed all of the money from their UCL campaign leaving the club without a penny to spare. Corruption is nothing new to the league either with many matches being fixed since the 90's. Former Romanian football club owner Dumitru Sechelariu admitted he was heavily involved in match fixing during an interview on a Romanian TV show in 2003. Romanian club merchandising available for sale started to become non-existent, attendances were spiralling down & TV broadcasting brought in minimal money.
The best players & prospects in the country don't want to be there: they will often leave to countries like Italy, Spain, England, Germany, France, Portugal etc. CFR Cluj are now banned any the Romanian Football Federation as their owner, Pászkány Árpád is unable to pay their debts but only 5 years ago they were beating Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League. Rapid Bucharest were relegated due to financial trouble. Otelul Galati, a small lower league team won the league but fell into financial trouble & are now back to being a small lower league team.
A new broadcasting deal came in 3 years ago but, as you can see, it hasn't helped much & teams certainly aren't spending more. No club, bar Steaua Bucharest, made a signing that cost money in the summer of 2015. In the last 4 season no Romanian side has qualified for the UEFA Champions League. The average attendance is still falling, now sitting at an unhealthy 2,400. Players have begun to protest over not being paid. In a survey by FIFA 75% of Romanian players said they were not paid on the right time.
So, as the great Gheorghe Hagi once said, "Romanian football is a ticking bomb, waiting to implode on itself."
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