It’s 4th down and the team is up by 4 with 17 seconds left. Drop into coverage and look at the QB throwing the ball…It is short!!!! BALLGAME! You feel joy and relief but somehow it was a bitter- sweet moment. I knew already that it was the last game of the season since we missed the playoffs on points. As i walked off the field, giving space to the offense to take one last knee this year, i started reflecting on my life and one question popped into my mind: How on Earth did i end up here?
Well it is a journey to remember for sure.
Since i was born i wanted to be a professional football player! Okay ,in the States it is called soccer and i didn’t know anything about that weird shaped ball. So, i started playing soccer at the age of 5 and was pretty good at it! Told my parents that one day i will play Football in Germany! Funny enough i did. But more on that later.
When i was 14 two of my best friends asked me if i want to go to an american football practice with the Budapest Wolves. I started going to the practice regularly and made my debut in the junior team at the age of 15. My first year was a succes! I got named the Rookie of the year and led the team in Interceptions while winning the Hungarian Junior Bowl.
I fell in love with the game instantly. Even more so after finishing my junior career with 3 Junior Bowl titles. Its not hard to like something where you have succes. My first senior year came on a different team, the Budapest Hurricanes. Apart from a team change everything was going down the same road: 1 year, 2 titles. One from Austria, one from Hungary div 2.
Just when i thought my teams are invincible, in 2012 i was faced with the cold harsh reality. We lost 2 finals that year after going undefeated in both Austrian and Hungarian regular seasons.
It was a wakeup call for me and the team. We can’t take champinoships for granted.
Next year we had an unsuccesful spring in the CEI league but our goal was the HFL title during the fall. And Boy did we get it! Against the arch rivals Budapest Wolves, in one of the best hungarian finals ever in front of 7000 fans. Our success was short lived. Next year we missed the playoffs and due to its financial problems, the Hurricanes folded.
It was time for a change. I registered to Europlayers and made a tape. For months my inbox remained empty. I signed back with the Budapest Wolves and started the season when one day i got an email. It said You recieved a new message on Europlayers. My heart was racing as i opened it, and it was indeed from a team.
Finland’s Kouvola Indians wanted to sign me! I said yes within seconds, hoping my family and my then girlfriend won’t kill me for it. Well they didn’t and since then my parents are my greatest supporters to this day.
Where is Kouvola and what the hell are we going to do there for 6 months? It was a question often asked by my friends and to be honest: I didn’t really know how to answer it! May came and it was time to go. It turned out to be a great experience! Meeting new people, leaving Hungary for the first time and learning about #importlife. The season went better than expected. Before it everybody predicted us to finish dead last. Refusing to believe that we finished 5th, barely missing the playoffs.
As the season finished and we arrived back home it was time to play in the first Hungarian National team game ever. It was a loss to Czech Republic but it was great to see how many fans came to support us.
By the end of February of 2016 i already signed a contract with the Stockholm Mean Machines. Rebuilding franchise who wants a veteran DB. Sounded like a place for me. By this year we already knew the drill with Niki. Kiss goodbye to family and friends, take a deep breath and go! I cannot be thankful enough for her to stay with me during my first two trips to support me. She has helped me through a lot of tough situations.
The season was great. The Machines kept on improving and after 3 winless seasons finally the curse broke! As the only import on defense and a team captain i was extremely proud of everybody how they never gave up and kept on getting better! Look at them today: Swedish champions again! You can say the rebuilding was succesful! it was one of the best years of my life. So many friends and that amazing city of Stockholm! I will always cherish those memories!
Kristóf Szakács – Import Life – Kristóf in Stockholm with the Mean Machines
But 2017 came and i didn’t get resigned. I was disappointed but i was back out on the free agent market. 3 days before the start of the GFL season, i was sitting on a plane to Frankfurt to go to Saarbrücken to play for the Saarland Hurricanes. I finally made it to GFL! The best league in Europe! As a football player in Europe that is the dream. What can go wrong? In one word: EVERYTHING! 2-0 season start, playing good football and living the dream of playing in the GFL suddenly turned into a nightmare. The team started loosing games, the Head Coach got fired. It was only the beginning.
On a Friday practice before a game against Marburg (It is funny how life works) i batted a pass down. Did it 20000 times before. Something was different this time. As i landed i tore my groin muscle. My season was over for the first time in my career. I Didn’t know how to process this feeling. I tried to play one more game but my body refused. Issues off the field also started to pile up. At that point i was ready to call it a career. Played 3 years as an import, explored Europe what else can i ask for? In October i was around 70% but managed to play in the Hungarian national team. I felt like i can do it again.
Finished my 5 month rehab, started getting in shape again as well as starting to practice with the Wolves. I didn’t really know if i will get an other contract after my injury. In March 2018 i didn’t get many offers, mostly because teams were afraid to sign an injured player. Enter Marburg Mercenaries! They were ready to give me a chance during their training camp in April. Coach Dale Hefron signed me and for that i will forever will be grateful.
This season…. Started of 5-2 being one of the top teams in the league just to finish 6-8 and to miss the playoffs. Our last game was kind of like our season! Starting of 21-0 just to let them come back in the game and almost loosing it…And you know it was 4th down! As you say: The rest is history.
4 years as an import you learn a lot. Not just about football but about life and yourself as well. You learn the value of your friendships, teammates and coaches. Do it as long as you can because later you won’t have the chance. Don’t be afraid to move to an other country just make sure you are sorrounded with the right people.
PS: Mom, Dad i told you i was going to play football in Germany!