Vasas midfielder Benedek Murka hasn’t had a great few years. A promising start to his young career (he’s still only 22) saw him play for the Hungarian National Under-21 team and cement a place in the Vasas starting lineup. Sadly, this early success was brought to a halt last year when a knee injury landed him in the one place no player wants to be – ACL surgery.
Benedek’s recovery had gone well. His rehab was on track and he was all set to come back and aid Vasas’s promotion push at a crucial time. Of course, then coronavirus came along so instead of strutting his stuff on the pitch he gets that most wooden of spoons: having to talk with me. I interviewed him last week (virtually of course) about his recovery and how footballers are staying fit during lockdown.
It’s been such a close season at the top of the table. The promotion push was on and now everything has suddenly stopped? How do you feel at the moment?
Thank you, I’m fine. I miss football a lot, but as we know, there are more important things. I hope it all ends as soon as possible and we can get back on the pitch.
Is it hard to stay fit and healthy, especially at such a strange time?
Of course it’s a new situation for everyone. After the MLSZ announced that the teams aren’t allowed to train together, each player received an individual training plan, so the work hasn’t stopped. With the right tools (GPS watches, Heart Rate Monitors) the coaches can keep us in check. We have daily contact with the coaches, so if we need any help, we can count on them. We’re striving for the championship to start at anytime, so we are in the best shape possible.
What’s the mood in the Vasas camp right now?
At the last training session we discussed the current situation. Now everyone has a little time to be with the family but in the meantime we have to be ready to continue what we started. We have serious goals that we will achieve together. No one knows how football will continue in Hungary but we are ready to get out the most of the situation. The job is to train hard at home and wait for the official announcements.
How are you entertaining yourself during lockdown?
I try to look at the positive side of the current situation, even if there isn’t much. Now I have opportunity to do some extra work in training and physically get closer to the others after a long injury. Of course it’s not easy when you don’t have the workout equipment you’re used to in the team gym, but I bought a few things at home and I use my creativity. I plan to rent a spinning bike, so I can train more variedly. Yeah, and of course we play Xbox with our teammates and friends. Now we have time to do things we haven’t had before, so I entered an online Formula 1 competition for example. We will see what I am capable of behind the wheel.
Can Vasas still go up this year? Do you think the season will even be completed?
I believe that we can fight for promotion if the season is completed “normally”. We heard a few possible scenarios and I hope it will be beneficial for us.
How has this season been for your personally dealing with a long-term injury?
In my case I can’t speak about how successful the season was or not, because I was injured. I had the ACL surgery in May last year and from then I started my rehabilitation. If we’re talking about rehab, I can say it was a very successful time, and we worked hard to get my knee well. Many people have been working to make it as easy as possible for me at this hard time and I am so grateful for that. I was already training with the team before the league was paused, so when it starts again, I’ll be ready to play.
What about your own career? Could you tell me a little about yourself and your rise through the ranks at Vasas? Were you a childhood fan?
I joined the team in 2015 when I was 17. It looked like I was going to join an Italian team but then the Vasas opportunity came and I felt like I would like to play for an adult team and of course in a club with such a big history. I owe a lot to the then coach (Szanyó Károly) who helped me in the beginning. It is not easy for a young player to join a professional first team. After the beginning, the last 5 years have been a rollercoaster for the team. We achieved some great things (3rd place in the league and and a cup final [both in 2017] Europa League qualification), but we had failures as well. For me it’s the same, I had very nice periods and memories but I also had some serious injuries. I personally learned a lot during this time. I feel we’re going the right way now and the team will be able to achieve some great results in the future.
Finally, which players did you look up to when you were younger?
As a child I had many role models in football but I would like to mention two of them. András Tóth, my grandfather’s brother, who played for Újpesti Dózsa from 1969 to 1981. He won the Hungarian championship 9 times and made 17 appearances for the national team. My goal is for people to talk about me the way people talked to me about him. He was a great sportsman. My other role model was Cristiano Ronaldo, I don’t think I need to explain this one! I liked him the most because of his work ethic. It’s amazing how much he works to stay on top. I think it’s motivating for every young player. Hard work always pays off.
Thanks to Benedek Murka for his time, as well as the always helpful Sandor Dobos and all at Vasas for their continued help. I look forward to seeing Benedek bombing on for Vasas in the future, whenever it ends up being.