Pros 15.09.2022 — 13:41 Uhr

Bódog: “It’s great to be coming home”

When Tamás Bódog made his Mainz debut, he came on as a substitute for Sandro Schwarz. Now the Hungarian is Schwarz’s assistant at Hertha and the 51-year-old is looking forward to returning to Mainz.

Bódog has a long history with Mainz 05

It’s going to be one big reunion on Friday evening, when Mainz face Hertha at the MEWA ARENA (20:30 CEST). We will see the return of lots of familiar faces, many of whom have a long history with the Zerofivers. Sandro Schwarz is returning to FSV for the first time since his three seasons in charge of his hometown club. The born and bred Mainzer will also be joined by his assistant and former teammate Tamás Bódog. Suat Serdar, who came through the ranks of the Mainz youth academy, is also now a Hertha player, as is Jean-Paul Boëtius, who made the move to BSC in the summer.

A few days before the game, we caught up with Bódog to discuss his return to Mainz. “I am very much looking forward to the reunion. It’s great to be coming home and it will be great to see some old faces. It will be emotional but also very interesting for me,” explained Bódog, who was capped five times for the Hungary national team during his playing days. He also made 92 league appearances for FSV and was a part of the side that got promoted to the Bundesliga back in 2004. The Hungarian also spent two years as assistant coach of the Mainz U23s under Peter Neustädter and most recently worked as a scout for the Zerofivers.

It’s great to be coming home

Tamás Bódog and Sandro Schwarz in August 2003

Bódog came to Mainz at the start of the 2000/01 season and lived in Finther Eigenheim until his move to Berlin in the summer. The former defender, who will turn 52 in two weeks time, made his FSV debut on 24th September 2000 in a 1-0 win over Greuther Fürth, when he came on as a substitute for Sandro Schwarz.

Bódog initially came to Germany in 1994 when he made the move from Pécsi MFC to Ralf Rangnick’s SSV Ulm, who were then in the Regionalliga. He went on to reach the Bundesliga with Ulm, but the minnows were relegated after just a season and Bódog moved on. He then went on to play a few games for a smaller team in the nearby region, but there was a good reason for this. “I couldn’t make the move directly. Our twins were born around this time and I wanted to help my wife out at home. Then came the opportunity to sign for Mainz. The rest, as they say, is history,” he explained. The then Mainz head coach, René Vandereycken, initially signed Bódog as a full-back. He then replaced the injured Jürgen Klopp at right-back and then went on to play with Neustäder at centre-half.

When Voronin stood there laughing

A memorable moment for Bódog came in a 5-1 win over VfB Lübeck (our upcoming opponents in the DFB-Pokal) during the 2002/03 season. Bódog was played through by Niclas Weiland and whilst the Hungarian was running through on goal, striker Andrej Voronin was stood there laughing opposite the bench. “I wanted to get as far away from our goal as possible. Then I all of a sudden noticed that no one was near me and I was through! Andrej stayed in the middle because he knew full well that I was quicker than him and he didn’t run with me, but he wouldn’t of come anyway!” Bódog slotted it past the goalkeeper for his second of the afternoon.

“I scored two goals, set up one and had one disallowed. It was crazy,” recalls the Hungarian. “There were so many memorable moments back then, we had two missed promotions then we eventually got promoted to the Bundesliga. It was incredible. Those days at the Bruchweg were something special. The Kloppo era was an amazing time. For me as a player, it was the best time. There were highs, lows and a long injury. Then we got promoted. It was amazing. I will never forget those days.”

Those days at the Bruchweg were something special

After he hung up his boots, the defender then went into coaching. His first job was assistant coach of the Mainz U23s and this is where he did his badges. “Then came the story of when Videoton (now Fehervar FC, who recently played 1. FC Köln in the Conference League) wanted me. Lothar Matthäus was going to become coach. I signed a two-year deal as assistant coach but Matthäus eventually turned it down. It was, nevertheless, a very successful period.” He also worked under Ralf Rangnick as an assistant at RB Leipzig and the club made the incredible journey from the Regionalliga to the Bundesliga. “I was then released and I made the move to Bröndby in Denmark with Alexander Zorniger.” Bódog then became a head coach in his native Hungary.

Bódog explained that he remained in contact with Sandro Schwarz in the years that followed his time in Mainz because “everyone who grew together back then stayed in touch with each other.” He continued: “We spoke with each other last summer and shared our views. Sandro wanted to work with me. Since then I have been in Berlin! It’s lots of fun and I hope we can write more history with each other at Hertha.” Around a month ago, the 51-year-old found a flat in Berlin with his wife, which is not far from the Olympiastadion. “At some point we will return to our home in Mainz,” clarified Bódog. His son, Donat, studies in Mainz and plays as a centre-back for Fontana Finthen. His twin sister studies home economics in Mönchengladbach and lives with Lukas Müller, who was once in the Mainz U19s.

Clear signs of development

Hertha recently earned a 2-2 draw against Leverkusen and put in a solid all-round performance. “We’ll take the point but we could have maybe got all three,” explained Bódog afterwards. The Berliners squandered some good opportunities and felt aggrieved to have not been given a penalty for handball. “It’s about taking the next steps in the right direction. You can see Sandro’s ideas and how they are helping us develop. Right now we can say that we have a good mix of players in the squad and we also have a good mentality. We still have lots to do but that is also the case at every club and it’s a constant process. We are going to Mainz on Friday with the aim of picking up all three points,” said the former Zerofiver.

You can see Sandro’s ideas and how they are helping us develop.

Everyone at Hertha is aware of how tough the challenges that lie ahead will be, as Bódog reiterated: “Getting Bo Svensson was a real triumph for Mainz. You can see a clear plan and a clear philosophy. They have put together a great squad and they have a chance against every team in the league. They are also very dangerous, whether they play at home or away. Their development has been great to see. Above all, it’s great for the fans, who can really identify with the way of playing.” He also jokingly added: “I hope that we will win the game and you Zerofivers won’t be too disappointed because you will have also played a good game. And then Bo will be able to say in the press conference afterwards that it was a performance to build on!”