Gabor Kiraly hopes the cult following behind his grey tracksuit bottoms can provide the foundation of his career after football.
The Hungary goalkeeper became the oldest player at a European Championship when, at the age of 40, he was the man between the posts for the nation’s return to international football’s biggest stage.
Having upset Austria and drawn with Iceland, Hungary endured a difficult match on Wednesday in Lyon, where Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice in a 3-3 draw.
But the result was good enough for Hungary to progress as group winners in their first appearance at a major finals since the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.
The national team’s resurgence and Kiraly’s distinctive clothing have both caught the imagination back home – supporters were encouraged to wear grey trousers to work ahead of the midweek Euro 2016 match.
And the former Crystal Palace player revealed after the match he is aware of the huge interest in his unusual attire and is hoping to use it to his advantage as he approaches the twilight of a lengthy playing career.
“I heard some information, yes,” he said when quizzed on the platform the competition has provided for his long-held quirk.
“I opened my own brand on April 1, my 40th birthday. I want [it] to work in the future.”
One of the hottest days of the tournament in Lyon had appeared to pose a unique challenge to a player determined to wear his lucky apparel, but Kiraly has left nothing to chance in his bid to underpin Hungary’s challenge.
“I have special stuff, very, very skinny [fabric],” he said.
“So that’s why in this weather [or] in the wet, they’re not really heavy.”
Giraly even goes so far as to train in his trousers, prompting queries about exactly how much equipment is required to sustain his unusual preference.
“I personally have three [pairs with me],” he said, gesturing to his bag.
“But the kit man, he has more. Maybe 10.”
Intriguingly, while the superstitious shot-stopper would never consider wearing anything other than his trademark outfit, he has no preference which particular pair he dons in each game.
Asked if he will be ensuring the same set that guided Hungary through to the knockout stages with the draw at Stade de Lyon is made available again for the round of 16, he replied: “No, it doesn’t really matter.”
And the Szombathelyi Haladas veteran has no intention of letting Hungary’s story end in Toulouse on Sunday.
“It’s a very special tournament for everyone, for the Hungarian people … it’s a new feeling, a nice feeling and we want to keep going,” he said.
“We go step by step, we want excellent performances to show what we can do.”
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