Fact or fake: Attila Szalai on Hungary

As soon as you mention Hungary, lots of people in Germany immediately think of the 1954 World Cup, of the Miracle of Bern. The country has several clichés attached to it in the public consciousness. Here TSG defender Attila Szalai wryly dispels some of the prejudices about his homeland, but nonetheless has to concur with a few points.

All Hungarians love goulash. 

"Of course that's true. Goulash is a traditional dish in Hungary. It tastes especially good when your grandmother makes it - much much better. But it's not just us Hungarians who love goulash; it's popular in lots of other countries too. It's simply a very good dish, which is also one of my personal favourites."

Budapest is the only place you really need to see in Hungary. 

"Budapest is one of the most beautiful cities in the world for me. I was born there, grew up there and really love it. But still, of course, there are lots of other beautiful places in Hungary. It's worth spending a lot of time in my homeland. Whether it's Pecs or Lake Balaton, Hungary is always worth a trip and definitely has a lot to offer."

Every meal should be spicy and contain paprika. 

(laughs) "This is definitely the case for my dad. I think by now he doesn't feel any spiciness at all, as his taste buds have long been numbed. For him, every main course has to be spicy. And paprika can't be missing either, for us it's an essential spice like pepper is for others."

You still haven't got over the Miracle of Bern. 

"Of course it's a shame that we weren't able to win the World Cup back then. But that is outweighed by the joy we feel as a small nation at having reached the final. That is a massive achievement. The team back then was our golden generation, they won the Olympic title in 1952 and went undefeated for four years. We are proud to have achieved such success."

Hungarian is the world's most complicated language. 

" It's not complicated for me, but I learned it as a child. But no matter which team I've played in, my teammates have always said that Hungarian is a complicated language. And nobody seems to like how it sounds. So I guess there must be something to it, I suppose we just have to accept it." (laughs)

Water polo sits alongside football as your national sport. 

"We have won the Olympic gold medal nine times, so there is obviously a lot of passion for water polo in Hungary. But there are a lot of sports we are enthusiastic about. Swimming or athletics are also among them. The Athletics World Championships this summer in Budapest, for example, were a big highlight."

Adam Szalai is one of the greatest footballers to ever come out of Hungary. 

"Adam is a legend in Hungary. He has done a lot for the national team and Hungarian football. He was our captain and always gave everything. I'm proud to have been on the pitch with him many times and to call him my friend. Now, fortunately, there is a Szalai at TSG again."

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