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Hungary star Szoboszlai misses Euro 2020 with injury

Budapest (AFP) – Hungary star Dominik Szoboszlai will miss out on Euro 2020 after failing to fully recover from a groin injury, Hungary coach Marco Rossi said Tuesday after announcing the final 26-man tournament squad.

The 20-year-old midfielder, seen as Hungary’s best player in decades, was injured soon after moving to German side RB Leipzig in January for 20 million euros, a record fee for a Hungarian player.

Capped 12 times, Szoboszlai was still named in Hungary’s provisional 30-man tournament squad despite not yet playing for the Bundesliga runners-up, but failed to prove his fitness.

“He is not in good condition,” said Hungary’s Italian coach Rossi at the team’s training camp near Salzburg in Austria.

“He is not even in a condition to be sent on as a substitute for a few minutes,…it is really painful for me not to be able to play him,” Rossi told a press conference.

For success-starved Hungary fans yearning for a return to the glory days of the “Magic Magyars” era led by Ferenc Puskas, Szoboszlai has been touted by many as a kind of Messiah.  

Snapped up by Leipzig’s sister club RB Salzburg aged 16 Szoboszlai flourished in Austria, at first supporting Norwegian wunderkind Erling Haaland, now at Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund, then becoming the team’s lynchpin. 

Chosen as the Austrian Bundesliga’s best player last year, he was also voted by European journalists 8th in the 2020 Golden Boy award for Europe’s best prospect.  

Tall and eager to push forward the silky Hungarian has been compared to Belgian star Kevin de Bruyne, with an eye-catching flair for free-kicks, long-range goals, and defence-splitting assists. 

RB Leipzig beat off rivals including AC Milan and Real Madrid to secure Szoboszlai’s signature, and last month extended his contract by a further year until 2026.

“The most important is that the national team perform well at the Euros, and for me personally, to get fully fit again for September,” said Szoboszlai after Tuesday’s announcement.

“It is difficult to be cut from the squad, but this was the only responsible decision,” he said.

Szoboszlai’s absence is a blow for Group F outsiders Hungary who only qualified for Euro 2020 via the play-offs, thanks to his last-gasp winner against Iceland, rifling home from distance after surging through the defence. 

The Magyars play title holders Portugal (June 15) and World Champions France (June 19) in Budapest, and Germany (June 23) in Munich. 

Rossi’s final 26-man squad also includes Szoboszlai’s RB Leipzig teammates Peter Gulacsi and Willi Orban.   

Hungary play Euro 2020 warm-up friendlies against Cyprus on Friday and Ireland next Tuesday. 

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