One of the world’s most traditional footballing countries, Uruguay, will provide the opponents as Hungary’s men’s national team play the first ever match in the all-new Puskás Aréna on 15th November. This historic contest in the country’s freshly-rebuilt national stadium will pit the twice world champions from South America against twice World Cup finalists Hungary and will also serve as the farewell match for Zoltán Gera, the former international forward who recently retired from playing and will coach the Hungary Under 21 team from July this year.
Uruguay, sixth in the FIFA world rankings, can count on world stars such Luis Suarez of Barcelona and Edinson Cavani of Paris St Germain and boast an illustrious past, having won the FIFA World Cup twice, in 1930 and 1950, as well as two successive Olympic football titles in 1924 and 1928.
They will therefore pose a huge challenge to Hungary, who have themselves contested two World Cup finals (both unsuccessfully) and earned three Olympic football titles.
The two nations have played each other three times in the past but only once on Hungarian soil – in 1962 in a farewell match for 101-times capped international midfielder the legendary József Bozsik in the Népstadion.
This latest meeting on 15th November will take place on the site of that former stadium, in the new Puskás Aréna, which will open the gates to its 68,000 capacity tribunes for the first time ever and eight months before the venue, one of the world’s most modern, hosts four matches in the 2020 UEFA European Championship finals.
The opening fixture in the Puskás Aréna will also be a farewell match though too.
Zoltán Gera, Hungary’s most outstanding footballer in the last fifteen years with 26 goals in 97 national-team appearances, retired from playing professional football last year after a serious injury and initially found it difficult to leave a career which featured a Europa League final with Fulham in 2010 and participation in Euro 2016, during which he scored the tournament’s best goal against eventual winners Portugal.
Zoltán Gera’s current club Ferencváros (where he is an assistant coach), the MLSZ and all the supporters present will all have the chance to pay tribute to him on this special occasion. From the start of July this year, Gera will take the reins of Hungary’s Under-21 men’s team as they build towards the 2021 U21 European Championship which Hungary and Slovenia will jointly host. Because the MLSZ wanted someone fully committed to the job, the country’s national association agreed with Ferencváros that he would relinquish his duties at the Budapest club.
He has also reduced his commitments at the side of Marco Rossi in the full national-team setup towards the end of this season so that he’ll be ready to concentrate on the Under-21 job.
“In terms of the future, it is a great honour that I can continue my career as a coach of the most exciting age group of footballers and it is a special motivation that together with Slovenia,Hungary will host the first 16-team European Championship. I’m proud of my work at Ferencváros, which I leave now with a heavy heart. As I said to the club leadership, I am very grateful for the opportunity I received, I’ve learnt a lot in the recent past and and I’m happy that together we could celebrate the club’s 30th league title (secured last month). From this point forward, I will work with all my strength to achieve good results with the Hungary Under-21 squad. I owe great thanks to the players and backroom staff of the full national team because I’ve learnt so much from them in the time we’ve been together, so I’m verygrateful to them“, the 40-year old, whose new office will be in the national-team training centre in Telki, told MLSZ.hu. When the calendar allows, Gera will continue to assist Rossi where possible.