Bury lad Callum Styles stands out in Hungary squad

Bury lad Callum Styles stands out in Hungary squad

Szoboszlai, Csoboth, Szappanos, Bendeguz Bolla, Botond Balogh. The Hungarian national team’s names would, for some, form a gruelling playground tongue twister.

Yet there’s one name that will stick out if you watch them in the Euros this summer: Callum Styles.

How could this 24-year-old lad, born in Bury and on the books at Barnsley, be playing for a country over 1,000 miles from his birthplace? And what is his role?

The answer involves chicken noodle soup, 50 Cent, poker, language-learning app Duolingo, and a bit of good, old-fashioned fortune.

Mail Sport explains all ahead of Hungary’s first match against Switzerland. 

What could a lad from Bury called Callum Styles be doing playing for Hungary this Euros?

The story involves chicken noodle soup, 50 Cent, and poker - as well as some good fortune!

The story involves chicken noodle soup, 50 Cent, and poker – as well as some good fortune!

 

The short answer? Styles qualifies for Hungary as his grandmother was from there, but the story is more complex and fascinating than that.

Growing up, he had no idea that he could one day play for them.

Styles was aware that his mother’s parents were from Eastern Europe, but wasn’t sure where.

The youngster would often visit his grandmother’s house after school, just around the corner from his parent’s house.

‘I would go around twice a week and she would always be cooking a chicken noodle soup. But she passed away when I was just at the end of primary school,’ he told The Athletic.

Styles started playing football when he was four, but his dream almost collapsed aged 16 when he was released by Burnley.

His hometown club of Bury offered him a contract and a rough induction into the third tier of professional English football in May 2016. 

Barnsley are his current employers though he has spent time on loan at Millwall and Sunderland in the Championship in the last two seasons and he could leave Oakwell this summer.

Styles only discovered that he could play for Hungary in 2020. That year he planned to visit the nation with his girlfriend to learn more, but the Covid-19 pandemic delayed any such opportunity.

Styles did not know growing up that he would be eligible to play for Hungary through his grandmother

Styles did not know growing up that he would be eligible to play for Hungary through his grandmother

The 24-year-old has played his football at Bury, Barnsley (pictured), Millwall, and Sunderland

The 24-year-old has played his football at Bury, Barnsley (pictured), Millwall, and Sunderland

In an interview with Barnsley’s media team, he explained his Hungarian heritage and it ended up in the Oakwell Review match programme.

‘I was just putting it out there,’ he told The Athletic. ‘And hoping something comes of it.’

After weeks of silence, suddenly a stroke of luck. ‘You know how everything spreads these days with social media? That’s basically how it was. It caught fire.’

The Hungarian FA got in touch with Barnsley, wanting to speak to his agent, in 2022. Within weeks, he received a call from the national team manager, Marco Rossi, about playing.

‘[Rossi was] telling me that as soon as my passport was ready he wanted me in the next camp. I asked: “To watch?” And he said: “No, to play, obviously.” It was a wow moment. If there is a Barnsley programme subscriber in Budapest, thank you,’ he told The Guardian.

Fast forward to today and the full-back is a regular in the Hungary line-up. He has already accumulated 22 caps and Euro 2024 is his first tournament with the side.

Getting up to speed with the language isn’t easy. ‘I am using Duolingo. I am trying my best,’ he told The Guardian.

‘It is not an easy language, let’s put it that way. It is difficult when you go over there but I am picking up quite a lot in camp but when that finishes I am back to England and everyone speaks English. It is easy to forget what you have learned because no one is speaking Hungarian around you.’

He starred in Hungary's 4-0 win over England at Molineux in June 2022 in the Nations League

He starred in Hungary’s 4-0 win over England at Molineux in June 2022 in the Nations League

He is reportedly in a poker group with Hungary's star player Dominik Szoboszlai (pictured) and performed Candy Shop by 50 Cent at his initiation

He is reportedly in a poker group with Hungary’s star player Dominik Szoboszlai (pictured) and performed Candy Shop by 50 Cent at his initiation

All the same, Styles has settled in well and been embraced. For his initiation song, he performed Candy Shop by 50 Cent. He is also part of a poker group alongside Liverpool’s Dominik Szoboszlai and other internationals.

Hungary are dark horses for this summer in Germany. This is their third consecutive Euros and they are on an unbeaten run in competitive football since September 2022, a recent 2-1 loss to Ireland the only blot on their record since then.

Styles was part of the Hungary team that beat England 4-0 in the Nations League just over two years ago. With a gritty, organised team, they could claim some scalps in Germany. 

Finishing second in a Nations League group comprised of them, Italy, England, and Germany is a strong indication of their potential. 

As Styles told the Guardian: ‘’I would love to go as far as I can with Hungary and hopefully make the later rounds by getting through the group – that’s the first goal – and take it game by game after that and see how far we can get.

‘We have got the players, we have got the coach, we’ve got the philosophy to go far. We just have to be confident, work hard.’

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