Never-before-seen footage has further expanded the MLSZ Archive channel; a 30-minute summary of Hungary’s matches at the 1938 FIFA World Cup including all the goals from the final.
Károly Dietz’s squad defeated the Dutch East Indies, Switzerland and Sweden on their way to the finale where they lost to holders Italy, some of the action from which can be viewed via this link:
In those days it was a good deal easier for Hungary to qualify for the finals than it is now! At that time there were so few participants that qualification was decided by only one home-and-away play-off, whereas now Bernd Storck’s team must negotiate ten group matches plus possibly a two-legged play-off too.
Moreover, in 1938 this two-legged play-off to decide whether Hungary would reach the tournament proper took place not two years earlier but only three months prior to the finals in France. On 25th March 1938 Greece were the visitors to Budapest and they were easily dispatched 11-1 with five goals from man-of-the-match Gyula Zsengellér of Újpest, a hat-trick from debutant József ‘Nehadoma’ Nemes of Kispest, two from Pál Titkos and a single strike from Jenő Vincze. Of the team that took to the pitch that day – Háda; Korányi I, Bíró; Lázár, Szűcs, Balogh I; Sas, Vincze, Nemes, Zsengellér and Titkos – only hat-trick man Nemes missed out on World Cup squad selection that May. Indeed he was never capped again and while it is worth wondering what else he could have done to merit a call-up, it is also true that his main rivals for a spot were two greats of the era, György Sárosi and Géza Toldi.
Onto the World Cup itself and after a 6-0 win against the Dutch East Indies in this knockout-only format of competition, Hungary moved onto Lille for a quarter-final against Switzerland which they won 2-0 with goals from Sárosi and Zsengellér. Paris on the 16th June was the venue and date for the country’s maiden semi-final against Sweden who were coached by Hungarian József Nagy. Hungary triumphed 5-1 to set up a final meeting with hosts and favourites Italy who had beaten Brazil in the other semi-final.
Controversially, Dietz decided to drop Korányi, Turay and Toldi and without them his side slipped to a 4-2 defeat but national sports daily newspaper Nemzeti Sport commented: “Let’s be objective. In the World Cup final the better team won. Don’t be disappointed; there’s no shame in losing to the better team. The two-goal margin of defeat is realistic”.
Thousands of people welcomed the team back to Budapest at the city’s Eastern station and although the players were féted, Dietz was nearly attacked and had to escape through a side exit. Sixteen years later following another World Cup silver medal, then Hungary head coach Gusztáv Sebes was also not received kindly by the country’s supporters.
MLSZ’s video in Hungarian
Source: MLSZ – Press release