On Tuesday evening, a well-known guest paid a visit to Craven Cottage, home stadium of the British Championship club Fulham FC: Zoltán Gera. While he was only there for a short stopover, according to social media sites some of fans would be still happy to see him on the team again.
Zoltán Gera, often dubbed the ‘Magical Magyar’, arrived in England in 2004 to play for Birmingham side West Bromwich Albion. After fruitful seasons there, he was signed by the London-based Fulham FC, and played for them between 2008 and 2011, an extremely successful period for the club. He played a major role in Fulham’s record 7th place finish in the Premier League (the top level of English football), and during the team’s European run, when they reached the Europe League final, only to be defeated in the final by Spanish giant Atletico Madrid. He was the first Hungarian player in the last 25 years to play in a European cup final. In 2013, Fulham FC’s homepage called him one of the 10 best free transfers of all time.
He returned to West Brom in 2011, but due to injuries, he only played 30 matches in 3 years. Nevertheless, his wonder goal against Liverpool will always be remembered. He then returned to Hungary, to his previous club, Ferencváros, and in 2015 he managed to qualify for the European Championships with the Hungarian national team, the first time Hungary had made the tournament in 44 years.
Despite a troubled childhood, with his enthusiasm, modesty, intelligence and humility, anywhere he played, Gera was one of the favorites of both fans and coaches alike. He is arguably one of the best Hungarian players of the last two decades. Famous English manager Bryan Robson once described Gera as “a top player, every manager wants to have players like him,” and praised his attitude and his professionalism.
Even with the passing of time, it seems that Gera’s popularity hasn’t diminshed: when he entered the pitch with his daughter before kick-off, fans greeted him as though he were still on Fulham’s starting roster.
via mno.hu, origo.hu, nemzetisport.hu