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DVSC puts Hungary back on the map of football

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By Lóránt Havas Sealing 2-0 victory against Bulgarian side Levski Sofia, the team of Debrecen put an end to a long lasting struggle of Hungarian football: it is going to be the second team from the land of Magyars to make an appearance in the Champions League (CL) group stage, after Ferencvaros’ 1995 debut in the tournament.

The historical achievement of the DVSC means, however, much more to the fans than just a simple victory.

DVSC - Levski Sofia football match, 25 August 2009

There were not so many who would have bet a penny on the success of Debrecen ( after the second round draw in the CL qualifications sent Swedish champions Kalmar ( in their way. However, the “Loki” (nickname of the DVSC, coming from the club’s earlier name: “Debreceni Lokomotív”) not only eliminated the Scandinavians, but also crushed the Estonian Levadia’s ( hopes and halted PFC Levski ( on their way to the group round.

Although DVSC is a reasonably popular team in Hungary mostly due to its national titles, all collected during the last decade, it is not among the traditionally most popular and prestigious football clubs of the country like Ferencváros, Újpest, MTK, Honvéd or Vasas – all from Budapest. Yet, the second leg of the play-off round against the Bulgarians, especially after the unexpected first leg win in Sofia, turned Hungary into a veritable “football frenzy” place, and made Hungarian fans demonstrate their deep devotion to football.

Suddenly, it became a cool thing to be interested in soccer. People talked about the match everywhere: on the street, in the shops, in the radio, on TV, at work or in the bars. Friends, who always kept safe distance from football especially if it was Hungarian, queued hours and hours to get a ticket. Grandmothers, who last listened to football when Puskás and the “Magic Magyars” lost the World Cup finals against West-Germany, sat bemused in front of the television with the whole family, held their breaths and waited for the miracle.

Miraculously or not, the DVSC has surely achieved something through football that has not been achieved in Hungary for quite some time: the “Loki” made people line up for and believe in the same case. Everyone in the country, independently from club sympathy, religion, social position or political standing wanted just one thing: to qualify. No, it was not only the club that qualified; no, not only the fans, the city or the region. It was a whole country that got into the Champions League for a few hours, a whole country who wanted to celebrate football, celebrate Hungarian success again and a whole country wanting to say: Yes, we have the better side!

Here we are, 14 years after that the last Hungarian team got into the CL, here we are after numberless football disasters, embarrassing results, early drop outs. But once again, we can proudly hold our head up high and cry out loud “Hajrá, Loki!” to let the whole world know: Hungary is back in the football business. We have come a long way.

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