21 Striker Szombathelyi Haladás Hungary
2014 has been...
The year the wheels came off.
How do you measure what a striker can do? How well he holds the ball up? Runs the channels? Links play? Or do we take a much less forensic approach and consider nothing more than the ‘goals scored' column?
If it’s a second striker, an old fashioned number 10 if you like, how do we judge them? Assists? If they’re good enough, more goals?
Well Andras Rado is a striker that fits both models. Not a tall one, not an out and out centre forward, but a relatively clever young player that can supply and score. And he did. Past tense.
Last season, 2013-14, resulted in one of the highest ever finishes for the Szombathely club in Hungary. A notorious yo-yo outfit, the all time high league placing of third in 2009 looked like it was under threat for a large part of the last NBI campaign. The main reason for the sudden upturn in form was a Hungarian Under-21 international striker who became the focal point of an exciting attacking line up which really shook the division.
Operating ‘in the hole’ alongside experienced duo Gábor Nagy and Péter Halmosi (formerly of Plymouth Argyle and Hull City), Rado was explosive on a regular basis. An impressive early season run, in which Szombathely lost only two of their opening fourteen games, saw the club fire its way up the league table. The run culminated in a superb 3-0 victory at Ferencváros almost exactly one year ago.
During this dizzy period, Rado was unstoppable. With Halmosi and Nagy providing nous and no little skill, the Pápa born forward developed into a star. Nine goals and eight assists were bagged as Rado tore his way through the league.
He would suffer a dip in form mid season, but regained composure to finish strongly even if his club had tailed off somewhat. A sixth place finish was still impressive for a less fashionable club and Rado’s efforts were rewarded with a call to the full national side in May, where he would make the bench for Hungary’s 2-2 friendly draw against Denmark.
For Szombathelyi Haladás a good season is often only a reward in itself and for a small club, punching above its weight usually means the departure of several of its best players. The name Haladás means progress in Hungarian and for Szombathelyi to truly progress they need to make ends meet. Accordingly, the impressive Nagy moved on to Újpest, whilst key defensive pair Predrag Bosnjak and Richárd Guzmics were sold to Ferencváros and Wisla Krakow respectively.
The one big surprise of the summer was that golden boy Rado didn’t move on too. With Szombathely acutely aware that they have perhaps the most valuable asset in their history, a price was set, but it was set at such a level that no clubs were prepared to bite. Interest from Germany, England and France was negligible, with few clubs prepared to cough up for a youngster yet to be tried at a higher level . A number of second tier clubs from some of Europe’s bigger leagues, as well as several teams in Poland and Turkey, looked, but then walked away.
It’s great to be able to develop at a club you know, but the door was open for Rado in the summer and it closed without his departure. He really should have moved on and Szombathely should have cashed in. In holding out for too much, they appear to have shot themselves in the foot. With their best performing personnel gone, they currently sit bottom of the table and Rado, perhaps sulking, has been a shadow of his former self. Whoever told him to sit tight will claim to have his best interests at heart, but time is slipping away, he could be scoring goals.
A huge star in his home country, Rado has missed the boat this time and it will be in everyone's interests to see him move on. Alert to the possibility of a potential bargain, Hungary's biggest clubs will all be ready to pounce, and rather than head abroad just yet, a move not too far away could be a good idea. As it stands, Rado is going nowhere, in every sense of the word.
"I think Rado might just have missed the boat. At the most important stage of his career he's trying to lead a side bereft of confidence and ability, and now finds himself way out of form. A move abroad looks increasingly unlikely and what he has to concentrate on now is putting in the hard work to get himself back to his best. He still has plenty of quality and a January move to a better side in NBI might just get his career back on track." - Tomasz Mortimer
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