Champions of Hungary in 2018, MOL Vidi represent the town of Székesfehérvár near Lake Balaton – and its main employer, the Videoton electrical manufacturing company, after whom the club was named until the summer of 2018.
Founded as a works team – Vadásztölténygyár SK (‘SK Hunting Rifle Cartridge Factory’) in 1941, the club made the second flight NBII in 1957-58 then, as VT Vasas, the top flight NBI a decade later. That same year of 1967, the Sóstói Stadium opened just south of the town’s main train station.
Renamed Videoton SC in 1968, by the mid-1970s, ‘Vidi’ had claimed a league runners-up spot and gained their first taste of European football, holding Napoli to a draw and beating Fenerbahce 4-0 at the Sóstói.
The golden era came in the mid-1980s. Finishing third in the league in 1984, Vidi set off on an improbable run in the UEFA Cup, beating Dukla Prague before putting four past Paris Saint-German at a shocked Parc des Princes. Scorer of two that night was József Szabó, ‘The Giraffe’. Top league scorer the previous season, Szabó would prove crucial to Vidi’s progress to the 1985 final – when his absence in the first leg played an equally vital role.
In between, Vidi famously snuck through against Manchester United when Frank Stapleton and Arthur Albiston missed penalties in the shoot-out at the Sóstói. Hero of the night was goalkeeper Péter Disztl, whose brother László played at centre-back. The semi-final with Zeljeznicar required Vidi to hold on to a 3-1 lead from the Sóstói, a crucial late away goal from József Csuhay saving the day in Sarajevo with the Bosnians 2-0 up and cruising to the final. ‘I put everything into that shot,’ Csuhay was to say later. ‘All my hope and venom.’
Without the threat of Szabó in the home leg of the final, Vidi crumbled to Real Madrid, Michel, Butragueño, Valdano and all, falling 3-0. They saved face in the second leg at the Bernabéu, scoring the only goal late in the game.
With Hungary still Communist, the army side, Honvéd, cherry-picked the Disztls from Videoton while Újpest Dózsa claimed midfielder István Palkovics. Szabó, meanwhile, left for a miserable time in Greece but to this day remains Videoton’s highest scorer.
As for the coach, Ferenc Kovács, ‘Feri bácsi’, was eulogised when Vidi veterans were recently interviewed for a 30th-anniversary film, ‘Az utolsó kupadöntö’ (‘The Last Cup Final’) in 2015. As a player, he starred for MTK in the Cup-Winners’ Cup Final of 1964 – surely the only Hungarian to feature as player and coach for a Hungarian side in European finals. He, too, had a sorry time abroad, at Las Palmas, but soon returned to Videoton.
Vidi trod water for two decades, even sinking to the lower flight. They were rescued by Viktor Orbán, football-mad Prime Minister of Hungary, who had a cartel of his political and banking cronies put money into what is effectively his local club. Better players, better managers and a new stand at the Sóstói helped toward a first ever Hungarian Cup in 2006, League Cup wins and, in 2011, an elusive league title. Goals from Brazilian striker André Alves saw Vidi lead the table from late summer onwards and not look back.
Wily, title-winning coach György Mezey was inexplicably replaced by Paulo Sousa, the first of three Iberians who had patchy success in Europe. Wins over Sporting Lisbon and FC Basel stand out, though Vidi only managed to gain a second league crown in 2015. Goals from the prolific Nemanja Nikolić, a naturalised Hungarian, helped Videoton over the line.
Incoming coach Bernard Casoni had to do without Warsaw-bound Nikolić in 2015-16 – relying on talent such as Ádám Gyurcsó, produced by Vidi’s feeder team, Puskás Akadémia, founded by Viktor Orbán and based in his home village of Felcsút. With the rebuilding of the Sóstói Stadion, Vidi installed themselves there from 2016.
Pipped at the post for the 2017 title at Honvéd, and making steady in-roads into Europe, Vidi welcomed the arrival of another Nikolić, Marko, a title winner as coach of Partizan Belgrade. Neck and neck with Ferencváros through the 2018-19 campaign, Vidi edged ahead to claim a third league title.
Playing major European games at Ferencváros while the final touches were being put on the Sóstói, Videoton became rebranded MOL Vidi after the main Hungarian energy company. Surprising Malmö in the Champions League qualifying stage, Vidi gave a gutsy performance to take AEK to the wire in Athens. A last-minute attempt by inspirational veteran captain Roland Juhász nearly swung the crucial play-off tie back to parity.
Qualifying for the group stage of the Europa League, Vidi put in a creditable performance against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and gained back-to-back wins over PAOK, achievements to stand alongside the Europa League run of 2012-13. The UEFA Cup final of 1985, however, remains in a class of its own.
Opened in 1967, the Sóstói Stadion has been part of various Hungarian bids to host European tournaments in modern times. An open bowl with one main stand, the Sóstói is at least well equipped with decent floodlights and undersoil heating.
All changed with the reconstruction begun at the end of the 2015-16 season, when Vidi moved to partner club Puskás Akadémia in nearby Felcsút. Playing major European games at Ferencváros, Vidi still managed to notch up another title success while the new Sóstói was being built.
Opened in November 2018, it seems to have the same layout out as its predecessor – home fans gathered at the scoreboard end of the Sóstói, sectors I and J, and sector V opposite. Away ones are allocated H and K next to V and G over the halfway line in the touchline stand. Sectors A-D form the main stand. If a decent number of away fans are expected, then they are allocated V as well.
The Sóstói is walkable from the train station. Exit the station left as far as Széchenyi utca. Turn left again, under the railway bridge – then turn right at the roundabout. The stadium is right ahead.
Bus Nos.11 and 11A also serve the Sóstói but it’s hardly worth it.
The thorny issue of membership cards has still not been resolved in Hungarian football. In principle, provided you take ID, you should be able to buy tickets on the day, about HUF2,000 for the best seats (A-D) in the main stand, HUF1,200 in F-G opposite and under HUF1,000 behind either goal, including away fans.
For European fixtures, prices rise by about 20%.
A little Vidi Shop stall proffers blue-and-red merchandise below the main stand on match days.
During the 1984-85 UEFA Cup run, players met at the Pokol Pince, where coach Ferenc Kovács would demonstrate tactics with matchsticks on the tablecloths. The restaurant still operates, though it’s a fair trek from the stadium – in fact, it’s so far south-west on highway 7, it’s just over into Szabadbattyán.
Around the ground, on Csíkvári út facing the cemetery, the Szöglet (‘Corner’) is a little bar with a TV, billiards and pennants of Vidi’s European games over the bar counter. A solitary table is set outside for smokers.