Hannover’s ‘prodigal son’ could define Die Roten’s season
By Colin Stone
The stadium looked on in disbelief. He wasn’t really going to attempt this, was he?
But this was Szabolcs Hustzi, after all.
The setting was last Sunday, inside the AWD-Arena in Northern Germany. Hannover, despite going 2-0 up inside 12 minutes, were now desperately seeking a winner after Werder Bremen’s Aaron Hunt and Kevin De Bruyne had made it all square.
92 minutes had gone, and Konstantin Rausch was foraging down the left hand side once again in search of that elusive third goal. The ball was beautifully curled into the box, and as the fans looked on, they saw Huszti, Hannover’s prodigal son, turn his back to goal and launch himself into the air.
In one smooth movement, the 29-year-old Hungarian international connected perfectly with the ball as he scissor kicked it towards goal. As soon as he landed, a huge roar went up from the crowd. Bremen keeper Sebastian Mielitz fell despondently to the ground. Huszti had won the game in the most outrageous of circumstances.
But football hasn’t always been this rosy for Hannover’s favourite son.
Starting off life at Hungarian giants Ferencváros, a fresh-faced Huszti had a slow start to his professional career, appearing only sparingly for the Eastern European side. At the age of 21, Huszti was loaned out to FC Sopron where he first made an impression.
After scoring six times in 14 appearances, Huszti was recalled and immediately thrust into Ferencváros’ starting eleven. However, his performances soon caught the eye of the likes of West Bromwich Albion and Glasgow Rangers, and a move to Ligue 1 side Metz was finalised in the summer of 2005.
Although it seemed as though Huszti was on the verge of stardom, his time in France turned out to be a little more tumultuous than originally hoped. Despite playing 18 games, the 22-year-old only netted a solitary goal, and after Metz’s subsequent relegation, was sold to Hannover in July 2006 for a paltry £210,000.
It was during his first spell in Germany that Huszti enjoyed most of his success. After shining in his debut (also against Werder Bremen) in August of the same year, Huszti became a permanent fixture of the first team, scoring five times, contributing numerous assists and appearing in 31 matches. The 2007/08 season proved to be even more fruitful, as the Hungarian playmaker scored double his previous tally and started in all but one Bundesliga game. Once again, he began to receive enviable glances from bigger sides – one of whom was Zenit St.Petersburg.
At the age of 26, Huszti moved to Zenit for a fee reported to be around £2.4m. Despite not being utilised quite as much as he would’ve liked, as well as suffering a few injuries, Szabi enjoyed some success in Russia, winning the league title twice, the Russian Cup once and reaching the last 16 of the Champions League. However, throughout all this time, he admitted that he wasn’t enjoying playing for the club.
But it was in July this year that the fairytale story was complete.
Szabolcs Huszti, after more than three years away, returned to Hannover – or “home”, as he called it.
The fans welcomed him back with open arms, and coach Mirko Slomka showed no hesitation in placing him straight into the first-team.
And Huszti has not let him down.
In the first 3 games of the season, the versatile Hungarian has proven his worth by assisting in seven goals and scoring two himself. Huszti’s excellent first-touch, superb crossing ability and his penchant for the sublime make him a fan favourite at the AWD-Arena, and one whom many football supporters across the continent admire. With his ability to play on either wing, through the centre or even as a striker, the 29-year-old is a player every manager would love to have the luxury of owning.
But Huszti is not without his faults.
After scoring his sensational scissor-kick winner on Sunday, the blood seemed to rush to Szabi’s head as he tore his shirt off, leapt over the advertising hoardings and climbed the stadium fence to celebrate with his home fans.
His passion for the game and his club was evident for all to see, but the referee Deniz Aytekin had no choice but to send him off for his overly-zealous celebration.
Despite his sometimes fiery temperament and occasionally misjudged comments, Szabolcs Huszti is a marvel to watch with the ball at his feet. Nevertheless, Hannover fans should enjoy him while they can – because it might not be long before he’s on the move again.