That sweetly taken goal, which came at the end of a desperately tight 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ Final against the Netherlands, sealed Spain’s first world title and secured Iniesta a lasting place in footballing folklore. It also inspired a 15-year-old Hungarian by the name of Zsolt Kalmar, watching the game a continent and 13,000 kilometres away.
Five years on from that memorable night in Johannesburg, Kalmar is preparing to bring his own skills to bear on the global stage, as part of a Hungary side aiming to spring a surprise at the FIFA U-20 World Cup New Zealand 2015.
Voicing his admiration for his Spanish role model, the Hungarian youngster said: “His technique is amazing and he comes up with solutions to all sorts of problems in the blink of an eye.”
A busy year
As his side’s skipper and playmaker, Kalmar is sure to be in the thick of things when Hungary begin their tilt at glory in New Zealand, where they will take on Brazil, Korea DPR and Nigeria in the first round.
Daunting though it is, he cannot wait for the challenge to begin: “If we do our job properly, we’ll have our chances against all three opponents. It won’t be easy, though. We’re going to give our all and we’ll see where that takes us.”
The South Americans, five-time winners of the event, will start as hot favourites to top the section. There is little to choose between the other three members of the group, however, with Hungarian hopes further fired by the fact that they took third place on the podium on their last appearance in the competition, at Egypt 2009, their best finish in their five visits to the tournament.
The trip to New Zealand promises to be yet another big step forward for the promising Kalmar, who won his first full international cap in May 2014 and then helped his country book their U-20 world finals place at UEFA European Under-19 Championship held in Hungary a couple of months later. Those achievements were then followed by a move to German second division side RB Leipzig.
“It’s a big honour for me to have played for the national team,” said Kalmar, as assured with a microphone in front of him as he is with a ball at his feet. “I’m also very proud to have worn the captain’s armband at the U-19 Euros, even if our results weren’t exactly what we were hoping for. Now my career has taken me to Leipzig, and I think I’ve made the right choice.”