During the Junior World Championship in 2005, he was able to play in front of 5,000 people in Hungary – together with Roland Mikler – and of course he happily remembers the match in Nyíregyháza. Apart from this event, no major men’s world competition has been held in Hungary, so the EHF EURO 2022 will be unique. According to Péter Gulyás, the construction of the Hungarian national team is very sympathetic, and this may lead to results at the European Championship.
Péter Gulyás played in the Hungarian national team 111 times from 2006 to 2017, from the age of 16 until his retirement in 2017, he played exclusively for the Veszprém team at the club level. Multiple Hungarian champion, European Cup Winners Cup and SEHA League winner and silver medalist in the Champions League with Veszprém.
He is still only 37 years old, but he has also been coaching here for 13 years, he has been supervising the youth teams of Veszprém KC since 2017, until in the summer of 2021 the team of Telekom Veszprém asked him to be the second coach of his former team. We asked him about his career and of course about the EHF EURO 2022.
It was recently appointed that you will work as an assistant coach of Telekom Veszprém helping the head coach, Momir Ilic in the future. Was this invitation a surprise for you?
In the days after the Hungarian league final, the club asked us for this task, and I decided to stand up for it.
So you said yes right away.
Not right away, we thought about it a bit, but it wasn’t essentially an issue.
Not a small challenge.
No, it will be a big challenge, but I think we will succeed.
You were born in Veszprém, you also experienced the successes and failures of the 2000s and 2010s as a fully self-educated player. How was this trip?
In the beginning – I think – it took me a lot of patience since I was young, I had to be incorporated into the team. After that, everything became more and more different as my career, the club and everyone else changed. We were all formed and developed based on the way the club was. We did the steps together. And after a while, we adapted our daily lives to the goals that leaders set. But this is still the case.
Handball has changed pretty much in the last 10-15 years, but most of all in what has it changed?
The dynamics of the game. In the past, a 4-5 goal advantage seemed certain, huge, today during a successful two-minute period, this advantage may become null and void. Of course, this is true on both sides, you can come up with minus five in an instant, which used to be not so typical. Nevertheless, there is a huge physical potential in the development of defense.
Anyway, you could even play.
My family and I decided not to play abroad, and I didn’t want to play in another club in Hungary. I played in lower divisions, but the coronavirus epidemic put an end to this.
Loyalty and localpatriotism are very rare today in elite sports. Never had a question about playing elsewhere?
There were waves, ideas, but not really. After my career ended, I also didn’t want to wink elsewhere. And then there is a rather difficult matter to which I would like to give a snap answer: to be the most difficult prophet in your country.
How did you experience the many foreign players in the club and who did you like to play with the most anyway?
I have adapted to the fact that the club is getting better and better and we are becoming more and more open to different nations. All this brought about an improvement in the quality of the club, we kept moving forward, we managed to seduce players who really belong to the elite. I loved playing with almost everyone as they were my teammates. Anyway, I’ve always been one of those people who has never had any problems with anyone. There were big players in Veszprém with whom it was good to be on the field at the same time, but I don't want to highlight anyone.
What about the coaches?
I don't want to highlight any of them. I am grateful to them for leveling my career, obviously I had a closer relationship with someone, less with another. But we all worked to be better, to be better, and we really always drove the car together. This whole thing is always a joint work, which either ripens or doesn’t.
As for the national team: in addition to the World Championship and the Olympic Games, you have competed in several European Championships.
Yes, in 2008 in Norway and in 2010 in Austria.
Your answer was very quick.
Yes, because Norway was my first European Championship, while the second one is a painful memory for us: the last match against the Czechs, in which Jícha scored 14 goals. We were in a very strong group anyway, along with the Spaniards and the French.
Even in 2014, you were in the team in Denmark. So two eighth and a fourteenth place from the European Championships. What do you think can wait for the current Hungarian national team? What do you think of the team?
I find the current situation very good and promising, as the public thinks similarly. There is a young, very strong core for the team, and there are routine players like Roli Mikler, the middle generation, i.e. Ricsi Bodó and Bence Bánhidi, and come the young people who previously played a decisive role in the junior national team, Dominik Máthé, Zoli Szita, Miki Rosta. There will be a good few more young people in the near future who can grow into stable members and who can be used seriously in the adult national team. Yes, the members of the new generation are coming. All in all: the national team is very sympathetic.
Do you pay more attention to the players of Veszprém?
No, because I know all the players from the roaster, I have spent the last few years in the youth hadball, I know from everyone what their strengths or weaknesses are, what they are capable of, I am up-to-date, I follow the young people.
Was it absolutely clear that you were going to be a coach?
Yes, I started pretty early, at the age of 24, and I absolutely imagined myself in the youth handball. I have now agreed to the club’s invitation, but I will pay close attention to the recruitment in the future.
In January 2022, the European Championship will be held partly here in Hungary. There have been no examples of this before, how do you see the influence of the Hungarian environment on the host national team?
The situation is special for my generation, because in 2005, at the Junior World Championship was held in the Miskolc-Nyíregyháza-Tiszavasvári-Tiszaújváros “quartet”, and in the end we played in front of 5000 people in Nyíregyháza, it was a huge experience. Of that team, only Roli Mikler is there in the national team. Home staging can not only depress but also boost player performance. I am confident that the enormous pressure that will come from supporters and the media in January will lift them. I’m really looking forward to the tournament where our team can get to the top five.