During Honvéd’s premier league match on Saturday, Gábor Simon will be sitting on the bench for the 450th time (105 at Vasas, 68 at Sector III FC and 277 at Kispest). The technical director told NB-1.hu that this is only a part of his total matches.
– Congratulation on the numerous NB-1 matches, but how many are there in reality?
– Around thirteen hundred if you count the lower divisions and cup matches. I’ve worked at all levels, from BLASZ II and have won championships at all levels with the exception of the premier division.
– Out of all the people that you’ve competed with, who do you hold the foundest memories of?
– I’ve worked with four national team coaches: Rudi Illovszky, József Verebes, Kálmán Mészöly and Imre Gellei. I must also mention another outstanding person and coach, Károly Gergely. Unfortunately he always ended up at the wrong place and thus his career suffered. As far as the players are concerned, the Hungarian players are too many to mention, but I also worked with wonderful foreign players as well. Perhaps the best was Oleg Sirinbekov at Vasas, and Genito here at Kispest whom I liked both as a player and a person. I also must mention Benjamin, Abraham, Diego and Danilo. I stay in touch with most of them. I think that they must have liked me too, since on the back of their photos hanging on my wall they wrote things like “ to father with much love”.
– Everyone associated with soccer speaks fondly of you.
– If that’s the case, then I must be doing something wrong. There must be something wrong with a person that everyone likes. But seriously, I don’t pay attention to that; I just set out to do the best job I can and treat people fairly. In Hungarian soccer, the technical directors are about the only ones that appreciate and respect each other. They perform their work without much fanfare, but lots of things depend on their work. If we make a mistake, it can cost points in the standing. I’m very happy that we’re not just talking about me, but also about technical directors in general, since they deserve a lot of respect and credit. In the past our jobs entailed making bus reservations, wrote up protocols, took care of players’ personal business, but with time, we were given many more duties. Today, we have to pay a lot of attention to things, since we have a lot of foreign players. In addition, we must be familiar with all of the different rules.
I was with Sector III FC, when we lost 6:0 to Vasas. I protested the outcome due to a particular rule that only I was aware of. It took a full year, but we ended up with the three points.
– Is it true that the departments of labor and immigration have a special door just for you?
– Let’s just say that I get lots of help from them. They refer to me in a joking manner as a well known human trafficker.
– After a thousand matches, do you have a hunch as to who will be substituted and who will score a goal? You could easily be a manager.
– Many times I know ahead of time what’s going to happen on the field or who will be substituted. But I don’t want to be a coach. We had a trainer here at Kispest, let’s not mention names. He made himself believe that I was after his job and he told the club’s owner that I was undermining him. I’m telling everyone that I work with now or in the future that this wasn’t even thinking about such thing. There was one instance, when they removed a coach from the bench and left me all alone with a score being 0:1. We won 3:1, so I have a 100 percent success rate.
– After Dabas, how did you end up at Honvéd in 2004?
– I didn’t have any attachments to Kispest at that time, but I’ve always admired the club and was a big fan of the teams that Marci Esterházy played on. Now I love the club. I’ve had many friends here, including Bandi Cseh or Gabi Sikesdi, who is the only six time champion at Honvéd, yet was in the same general category as us technical directors. I happened to be at Europark, when my cell phone rang and I was called in for a meeting. I hopped on the train and within a minute and a half; we came to an agreement with the then owner, Zsolt Kiss. I haven’t regretted it since. We went through some tough times and it wasn’t easy getting to where we are now, but I have fantastic memories, so it was all worth it. We won the Hungarian Cup, played on the international front and travelled to numerous international venues. Ordinary people can see wonderful places in the world through being involved in soccer. I can name a few places that I would never have gotten to by myself: Bangladesh, Szudan, Kazahsztan, Moldova, Albania. During one of our training games in Sudan, one of our fans even got to play and almost scored. Therefore he almost made Honvéd history.
– You already achieved that, but now not just Kispest honored you.
– Not just Kispest fans, but fans of Vasas and Újpest along with sports writers and referees congratulated me. I’m not very sensitive, but the pre-game activities followed by subsequent congratulations felt very good. It may mean that what I’m doing I’m doing well.
– How did your family handle the frenzy associated with soccer?
– It wasn’t easy. My poor wife, who always had to root for the team that I worked at at the time had to endure a lot. It is a hard lifestyle, especially since my son is also involved with soccer and is as crazy as I am. It doesn’t matter that my life revolves around soccer, the number one priority has always been family.