Marco Rossi is one of the major discoveries at Euro 2020. The 56-year-old Italian took Hungary close to qualification from Group F, the same group in which France, Germany, and Portugal competed. Hungary was at +40,000 to win the tournament, with the bookies giving them no chance of escaping bottom place in the group.

Marco Rossi Euro 2020
Hungary national team coach Marco Rossi talking to the media after the 2-2 draw against Germany in Munich (Image: Twitter/iMiaSanMia)

Encouraged by a fantastic crowd in the only stadium at Euro 2020 that was filled to capacity, Hungary kept close to 2016 winners Portugal for 80 minutes, and managed a draw against world champions France. Against Portugal, Hungary even had a disallowed goal before Portugal scored three times in the last 10 minutes to win the game.

Playing France showed the Hungarians weren’t just enthusiastic and determined in their first game, as they went 1-0 up and made France tremble for a point until late in the second half.

The Hungarians couldn’t take their 60,000 fans from the Puskas Arena to Munich for the group decider against Germany, but made the most of their Euro traveling experience. Hungary had a 1-0 lead — then a 2-1 advantage — and were through to the round of 16 before Goretzka equalized in the 84th minute to set up a massive game for Germany at Wembley. Hungary’s fight for the impossible told one of the biggest stories at Euro 2020.

Who is Marco Rossi?

The man on Hungary’s bench is rather unknown at this level. A former defender, Rossi enjoyed his best years at Brescia between 1988 and 1993, also playing for Sampdoria and Eintracht Frankfurt without producing an impact. Since he moved into management in 2004, Rossi had jobs in the Italian lower leagues before joining Honved Budapest in 2010.

He worked at the team for two spells, separated by a 10-month break between April 2014 and February 2015. Then, for a season, Rossi was tied to Dunajska Streda in Slovakia before the Hungarian national team came calling. It wasn’t just the Magyar FA who wanted him, though. Rossi had to choose between a contract in the Romanian second tier and a seat on the Hungarian bench.

Universitatea Cluj, a team that had just been promoted to the Romanian second tier, wanted Rossi. The Italian’s former colleague at Brescia, Ovidiu Sabau, was a director at the Romanian team. Had he joined Cluj, Rossi could have been part of the failed project which saw ‘U’ not getting promoted for three years in a row.

Instead, he’s a national hero in Hungary and has raised eyebrows from various clubs with his interpretation of the games at Euro 2020. “Marco took me in the same room with him when I went to Brescia. He wanted to help me,” Sabau revealed during an interview with Romanian portal

“He has a wonderful character. On the pitch, he used to be very intense. He never wanted to lose a game,” Sabau said. “I thought he was fit for Universitatea. I called him when he left Slovakia and asked him to join the club. He was already talking to the Hungarian FA. We kept in touch during his time in Budapest, and we’re still in contact,” Sabau detailed.

Rossi: ‘Hungary adopted me’

The interest in him has grown, but Rossi says he only thinks about the Hungarian national team. He doesn’t wish to return home.

“I don’t care about revenge, and I’m not interested in returning to Italy. I’m happy if I leave an imprint in Hungarian football,” Rossi told Gazzetta dello Sport. The Italian has a contract in Budapest until December 2025, and his next goal is to qualify Hungary at the World Cup in 2022.

“I would like to take charge of a club, but I signed an extension to my contract. I would like to go to the 2022 World Cup now,” he said.

Asked about the heated reception Cristiano Ronaldo got in Budapest from the Hungarian public, Rossi said “Ronaldo is a great champion, but at times, he can be irritating. After the penalty against us, he cheered as if he had scored in the final.”

Before thinking about football again, Rossi has a special mission to solve. “I’m going to Italy for three weeks. I need to see my mother. I haven’t seen her since December 2019.”

It wasn’t the draw against Germany or the one against France which made Rossi tremble. The round of applause he and his team received after the 0-3 defeat against Portugal in Hungary’s opening game at Euro 2020 is still with him. “When we came out of the bus after the first game, people were applauding us. That is the most powerful memory I’ll take from these Euros,” the coach said.