Dominik Szoboszlai's coach father: „Instead of playing with Legos, we trained on the field”

Dominik Szoboszlai's coach father: „Instead of playing with Legos, we trained on the field”

04. December 2023.
5 minutes reading
Kávéházi beszélgetések – Szoboszlai Zsolt

Perseverance, dedication, and humility must go hand in hand with talent - this is the opinion of Zsolt Szoboszlai, the professional manager of Főnix Gold FC, who has coached his son, Dominik, from a very young age. He believes that in today’s Hungary, people want to make a lot of money from football, while barely putting in any work, and that this mentality is not the way forward. As a guest of the Money Museum's Coffee House Talks series, the coach revealed a number of behind-the-scenes secrets, including the strategy he used to coach his son and how he sees the prospects for young footballers in Hungary.

A full house welcomed Zsolt Szoboszlai, the professional manager of Főnix Gold FC, at the Money Museum's Coffee House Talks, where he answered questions from the audience for an hour and a half. The subsequent discussion was full of interesting, instructive and touching stories.

At the very start, we learned that most of the press reports about Dominik Szoboszlai are untrue, but neither the father nor his son sees any point in constant denials or reactions. Zsolt Szoboszlai coached Dominik himself from a very young age, as he was a former NB I footballer and is currently a professional manager at his own club. After being asked what he lacked that his son does not, Zsolt Szoboszlai immediately answered with one word: talent. Dominik, he says, was only a kindergartener, but he was already putting the kindergarten teacher in front of the goalpost and scoring goals against her. The expert, who has been working as a football coach for 20 years, says the key to success is perseverance, dedication, and humility. These must be combined with talent, otherwise there is no result.

But the answers to the barrage of questions show that the reality is deeper than that. Zsolt Szoboszlai was young when he lost his parents, forced to grow up early, while raised by his brother. His dedication to hard work stems from there, and he passed it on to his son. Dominik's childhood was spent in the triangle of school-coaching-home, as he says, "instead of playing with Legos, we trained on the field".

Dominik had 4-5 hours of training every day, of which 2 hours were training sessions led by Zsolt, while the rest of the time Dominik joined the training of both younger and older players. So, he learned to adapt to every situation. Many people don't know that until the age of 15, the current Liverpool star trained on a small pitch, "growing up on a 40 x 20 metre pitch", and only played on the big pitch at weekend matches.

But that has its advantages. According to Zsolt Szoboszlai, the small pitch was an important step in Dominik's progress, because on the small pitch you have to react faster and pay more attention to everything, and Dominik has been used to that since he was a little boy. One story shows that worldwide success comes at a high price: to further his development, 15-year-old Dominik was sent by his father to Salzburg to study and train. One weekend, when the boy called his parents in desperation to go home because he felt lonely because his teammates had all gone home, his father categorically refused.

In the end, he says, this seemingly ruthless move was in his son's best interest as well, since Dominik trained with a goalkeeper for almost 10 hours after the refusal and got over the fatherly strictness. He stayed and kept working.

Concentration was also an important milestone in his preparations: the coach-father always asked his son to focus on the tasks given at training and nothing else. As he says with a smile, his son was a fan of Ronaldo, but the busy training schedule meant that he no longer had time to hang posters of the Portuguese star in his room.

Zsolt Szoboszlai, a self-proclaimed fanatic fan, still tries to attend his son's matches: he sits in the stands for most of the home games, while for foreign matches he follows his son to venues that are relatively easy to reach by plane.

They are always concentrating on improvement, and now he thinks Dominik's head game should be improved. Dominik Szoboszlai is currently the third fastest player in the Premier League.

The money Dominik earns will be invested, shared Zsolt Szoboszlai, who believes that many talented footballers don't think about their future after they can no longer make a living from football.

At the moment, many people in Hungary want to make a lot of money from football with very little work, according to the expert, who reminded us that there are no Hungarian footballers in the top five leagues.

Almost 8,000 children start playing football every year, with an average of five of them making it to the first division, and only one or two making the national team. In comparison, Főnix FC has so far managed to develop 3 senior national team players. The key to success also lies in consistency and honesty from parents. Many fathers, for example, bring their children to training with unrealistic expectations, which can lead to a lot of problems later on. That is why Főnix FC has introduced a rule for the super mini age group training sessions that the parent must come to the training ground, the training is taught to the parent and they pass it on to the child. This way, the training sessions can go faster and more efficiently.

By the end of the discussion, it became clear that there are no miracles, but instead there is persistent, hard work, which, combined with talent, can set us on the path to success.

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