Euro 2021: Loïc Nego, the most French of Hungarians



Two roommates in the young teams of the French team will compete on the field, Saturday, June 19, in front of 67,000 spectators. At least part of the match if we assume that one, Antoine Griezmann, will start in blue. And that the other, Loïc Nego, will enter the lawn during the game in the Hungarian jersey, like Tuesday, June 15 against Portugal (0-3). Unless the Italian coach of the Hungarian team decides to throw him into battle from the kick-off.

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Like Aymeric Laporte who adopted the nationality and jersey of Spain just before the Euro out of weariness of never being called by Didier Deschamps, Loïc Nego also took the plunge. But long before, in 2013, and for different reasons. Unlike Aymeric Laporte, who has always found the shoe to his feet in big clubs, this 22-year-old player, passed by FC Nantes and AS Rome without ever winning, barred in the France team by generations successive excellent full-backs or defensive backs (his two possible positions), was then in distress. “I knew that my probability of playing for the France team was close to zero, so I jumped at the opportunity that was offered to me”, he explains in an interview with AFP.

He has been playing in Hungary since 2013

He did not hesitate when he received an unexpected proposal from FC Ujpest, a club in the Hungarian capital, where he signed in 2013. Since then, the child of Garges-lès-Gonesse born to Guadeloupe parents, champion of ‘Europe in less than 19 years in 2010 with Griezmann, lives a kind of revenge on fate in a country chaired by Viktor Orban, football fan and nostalgic for the great team of Hungary, finalist of the 1954 World Cup.

Viktor Orban has made football an essential axis of his diplomacy, placing his men of confidence at the head of the main professional clubs, which have adopted the recruitment methods of the best European teams. Loïc Nego took advantage of this policy of openness, which has been quite successful in the country: Hungary has qualified for its second Euro in a row, after forty years of scarcity at this level.

He qualifies Hungary for the Euro

He has returned a hundredfold what the country of Ferenc Puskas, the greatest Hungarian player in history, had given him (he gave his name to the national stadium). In 2019, he was named best player of the local first division and obtained Hungarian nationality at the same time, which allowed him to be selected for the national team. Above all, he scored, at the end of 2020, the decisive goal for the qualification during the jump-off against Iceland (2-1).

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Without him, no doubt, the Icelandic supporters would be amuse Europe with their clapping and the Hungarians would have stayed at home. They would not have passed either near a feat partly signed Nego against the Portuguese on Tuesday, June 15. Entered in the 65th minute, he delivered an assist to Szabolcs Schon, who scored a disallowed goal. This goal would perhaps have changed everything on the outcome of the match: the Hungarians had held high the Portuguese so far, before collapsing in the last ten minutes.

The hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages of Hungary, up against three big teams (Germany, France, Portugal) in Group F are now minimal. Largely defeated by the Portuguese, they face an almost certain elimination if they are beaten by the Blues, which seems likely. But that does not affect the morale of Loïc Nego. “We will play the blows thoroughly against the Blues”, he promised after the match against Portugal. For him, in any case, the Euro has already been won. His appearance and this famous pass against Portugal have certainly not escaped the recruiters of the big league clubs, including France.

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