The Monday Profile: Filip Kiss

Posted by on Nov 21, 2011 in The Monday Profile | No Comments
The Monday Profile: Filip Kiss
Image available under Creative Commons © joncandy
If Cardiff City’s line up for their 2-1 victory at Reading at the weekend was shorn of the strutters that were on show at the time of their last visit to the Madejski Stadium during last May’s play offs, the XI still had a familiar ring to it.Refreshingly, the club – and Malky Mackay in particular – have done a lot to win friends among supporters of opposing teams over the past half year. Gone are the players we always suspected they could not properly afford given the organization’s financial travails – Jay Bothroyd, Michael Chopra and high profile loanees such as Craig Bellamy and Aaron Ramsey. Arrived have been a cluster of the more accomplished performers from struggling rivals – Aron Gunnarsson and Ben Turner from Coventry, Don Cowie from Watford and Andrew Taylor from Middlesbrough (albeit by way of the same club).It’s a framework that is set up to get the bolts and nuts right – wingers Craig Conway and Don Cowie tuck in and muck in – unlike their more fleet footed Reading counterparts – and the result is a cog-like, compact formation. Mackay also doesn’t stand on ceremony – the hint of a free kick that could be considered within range of the opposition’s penalty area (so – pretty much anywhere on the rectangle) sees the lighthouse like Turner detailed to lumber forward and if Peter Whittingham’s conversion to a central midfield player does provide the craft on which chances are made, his and Kenny Miller’s presence seems anomalous given the workhorse tendencies around them.Whittingham was composed and influential on Saturday but one man in this decidedly Championship scented formation was unfamiliar to me. Playing ahead of the aforementioned ex-Villa man and the Icelander Gunnarsson, Filip Kiss tended to coast along – much of the game passing him by, although one well timed tackle on Mikele Leigertwood proved he could add the physical to the ethereal; the latter evident via a few tidy touches.

I presumed Kiss to be Hungarian given that he shares a name with a great many Magyars, not least Là¡szlà³ Kiss, the only man to score a hat trick in a World Cup match after emerging off the bench – in the 10-1 rout of El Salvador in 1982. Indeed, the name means “small” in the vernacular. I therefore turned to the pages of Tom Mortimer’s superb blog Hungarian Football to find out more about him.

But boundaries in eastern Europe are porous indeed – the Magyar minority in Romania is large and Transylvania in particular has often been a cauldron of contention between the local Hungarians and their current overlords – greater Hungary having bene detonated by the Treaty of Trianon at the conclusion of the First World War. Similarly, there exists a decent sized population of Hungarians in Slovakia to the north – a less fraught relationship – but one that has perhaps become less warm in recent years. It is from the southern town of Dunajskà¡ Streda that Kiss hails – a region with a greater number of Hungarians than ethnic Slovaks.

Accusations of electoral gerrymandering have beset this still fledgling nation state and it’s perhaps only due to western pressure that the Magyar population hasn’t been more compromised. Still, Jà¡n Slota, the President of the extremist Slovak national party has described them as ‘a tumour in the body of the Slovak nation’ while the removal of Hungarian language street signs and attempts to force women to affix the suffix ‘-ova’ to their names are other inglorious instances of a bubbling enmity.

So, it’s encouraging that Kiss has ignored the diktats of parochialism – enflamed across the border by tit for tat attempts to issue all Slovak based Magyars with Hungarian passports by the latter’s President Viktor Orbà¡n. The landscape of Hungarian politics has been transformed by the rise of the far right – the sinister Jobbik in Hungary and Slota’s own party in Slovakia.

That Kiss captains the under-21 side and has so far represented them 12 times is a middle finger extended to xenophobia. Equally, his pivotal role alongside Karim Guà©dà© in the securing of Slovan Bratislava’s sixth title last May won him favour before his loan move to South Wales in May – thus following fellow ethnic Hungarian Slovak Szilà¡rd Nà©meth to British football. Having opened his account in the cruise to victory over Derby County recently, the midfielder is beginning to cement his place and working under such an impressive youg manager in Malky Mackay as well as the audiences he himself has professed himself to be so impressed with will do him no harm.

Rob Langham
Rob Langham is co-founder of the defiantly non-partisan football league blog, The Two Unfortunates, a website that occasionally strays into covering issues of wider importance. He's 50 and lives in Oxford while retaining his boyhood support of Reading FC. He tweets as @twounfortunates and has written for a number of websites and publications including The Inside Left, When Saturday Comes, In Bed with Maradona, Futbolgrad and The Blizzard as well as being nominated for the Football Supporters' Federation Blogger of the Year Award in 2013.

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