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Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s speech at the inauguration ceremony for the Budapest Honvéd FC – Hungarian Football Academy Youth Training Centre

Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen, Honourable President, Partners in Sport, Former Footballers, Managers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I also extend warm greetings to everyone. The importance and influence of this event is clearly demonstrated by the fact that Sándor Csányi, President of the Hungarian Football Federation, is also here with us. He obviously didn’t come here because he is a long-standing Honvéd fan, but because this event today is an outstanding one for Hungarian football. Thank you very much, Sándor, for being here with us. I feel a little emotional because I know many people present here today. Just to indicate the passage of time, there are even some here whose fathers I once played alongside in the Division Three.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

So it’s clear that time passes, but love is eternal. It doesn’t matter if you’re six years old, or past your fifty-fifth birthday: once you’ve fallen in love with a sport, you’ll be in love with it for the rest of your life.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Your president said that we shouldn’t feign humility – and how right he is. Allow me to tell you that today Budapest Honvéd FC is one of the Hungarian clubs where the word “owner” should indeed be written with a capital “O”. If we look around Europe, we see that behind every successful Western club there’s a calm, composed and prudent owner. Some time around 1990, when communism came to an end and a new world began, we thought that this is also how things would turn out in Hungary. Well they did – but it’s been a bumpy ride, and it’s taken almost thirty years. Not only in football, but also in other sports, owners behind teams who are able to provide the long-term composure and security needed for the specialists’ work have been as rare as hens’ teeth. Mr. Hemingway is one of them. Let’s not beat about the bush: if he hadn’t bought Honvéd, we may easily have seen the disappearance of one of the most historic clubs in Hungarian football. That didn’t happen: the team has repaid stability with cup victories, and even a championship title.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

From the viewpoint of Hungarian football, it’s perhaps important to mention that in the history of Hungarian football there is a rule of thumb. We can see that whenever Honvéd has done well, so has Hungarian football as a whole. This was true in the club’s first golden era, when Puskás and his team were kicking leather here. This was also the case in the second golden era, associated with the name of Lajos Tichy – both as a player and as a coach. Then we had a third golden era, and I can see quite a few players from that team here with us today – the most prominent being Lajos Détári, whose name I should mention. And let’s not forget that in these periods the Hungarian national team has always relied on the players of Honvéd.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Your academy is now one of the most important power centres for Hungarian football. You’ve won the junior championship twenty-two times and the Puskás–Suzuki Cup five times – unlike us, who haven’t even won it once; and since the academy was established you’ve produced some sixty players for the elite of Hungarian football at adult level. This academy has provided four members of the current national team. The latest of these is Filip Holender – whom I warmly welcome here – made his debut for the Hungarian team only last Sunday, when we won. And if the statisticians are right, he is the one hundredth Honvéd player to have worn the colours of the Hungarian national team. This is a splendid achievement, and it clearly indicates the greatness of your club. And if I add to this that we can thank you for the national team’s current manager – as Mr. Hemingway brought him to Hungary and the work he did here earned him the position of national coach – one can clearly see that not only in the past, but also today Honvéd has been and is one of the most important driving forces in the Hungarian national team.

Mr. Hemingway also spoke about the future. In this company I need not speak at length about the very many people in the sphere of Hungarian football who are sceptical about its future greatness. My guiding principle is that those who have already reached the summit have every reason to believe that in time they will succeed again: if you’ve succeeded once, why not for a second time, a third, or again and again? And your legendary players, Puskás and his team mates, have already proved that we Hungarians can be world-beating champions.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let’s be clear: in my view, Hungarian football should aspire to nothing less than repeating the success of Puskás and his team. And the goal this academy should pursue is no less ambitious than to produce footballers for our sport who are the equals of the great icons in talent, technique and spirit. We will provide all the assistance we can in achieving this goal. We have provided assistance with this project: you’ve heard the numbers, and you may know that we’re also supporting construction of the new Bozsik Stadium. I hope that we will soon have the opportunity to see each other there.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Naturally we’re talking about professional sport because academies prepare children for professional sport. But let’s not forget that when we develop Hungarian sport – from gymnasia to swimming pools and academies – we’re not only thinking about professional athletes; we’re also thinking about how we envisage the lives of our children and grandchildren – and thus the future of our country. We believe that the future of every nation is revealed in its young people. Therefore it is in everyone’s interest – including those who don’t like football – for us to be followed by generations of healthy young people: young people who are capable of outstanding results, and who are devoted to their country. Sport is the best possible way of raising such generations, and this is why the Government supports every school child participating in sport.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Finally, I would also like to address the students of the academy.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Students,

If you persevere, if you listen to your coaches and teachers, then you will find yourselves on the threshold of a major opportunity. Naturally you should also be aware that while we hope that there will be a Puskás, a Bozsik, a Tichy – or a Détári, for that matter – among you, not all of you will be able to cross that threshold. Sometimes young footballers do not become professional footballers, but writers or prime ministers instead; and those careers are not to be sniffed at either. Regardless of whether you become professional footballers or not, believe me, you will always be grateful for the knowledge and the fighting spirit instilled in you here. We did not come here for a personal discussion, but let me tell you that I myself would not be able to do my job half as effectively if I hadn’t spent thirty-something years of my life in and out of changing rooms. Wherever fate may take you, throughout your lives you will be able to use what you learn and get to know here: about people, loyalty, friendship and dedication. For this you need only one thing: you need to be good competitors. Dear Friends, keep this in mind: you must always produce your best when it is needed the most. If you learn this, you will have learnt everything that is important. Dear Students, I wish you strength and perseverance as you gain this knowledge.

Go for it, Honvéd. Go for it, Hungary! I declare this Academy open.

Thank you for your attention.