A long period of treatment awaits the Hungarian national team goalkeeper after tumour found was found in his arm.
Following an operation on Wednesday, 24-times capped Hungary goalkeeper Márton Fülöp, who posted a string of impressive performances in the Greek championship this season, is expected to undergo treatment until late autumn and in the coming months will be fighting to make a complete recovery. Following an operation in the spring, a biopsy showed that a malignant tumour was present in his arm but the disease was caught in time and, following another successful operation, he will now undergo post-operative treatment to avoid any further worry. The 30-year-old, who has made almost 50 English Premiership appearances for such clubs as Manchester City, will be putting all his strength into concentrating on his recovery. He is moving back to Budapest and asks the media and his supporters for their understanding that he will disappear from their view over the coming months.
Márton Fülöp, who aged 21, was signed by Tottenham Hotspur on the back of his performances for the Hungary U21 team, left England in 2012 after eight years to sign for Greek side Asteras Tripoli where he has won over fans and played consistently well throughout the season. His run of form, only interrupted by the arm problem in February which led to his operation in April, continued when he returned to the team and led to an excellent performance in the Greek Cup Final on 11th May, in which he was instrumental in taking the tie into extra time, only for league title winners Olympiakos to eventually prevail 3-1. Fülöp followed this up with starring roles in the next five league matches as his team secured 3rd place in the Greek Super League.
“When training in February I felt a sharp pain in my arm, there was bleeding and I could feel that something was pulling the tendon that moves my middle finger, and I couldn’t straighten out my finger”, Márton Fülöp disclosed to the Hungarian FourFourTwo magazine when recalling what had happened over the past few months.
“Light treatment didn’t prove successful and I contacted Doctor Ferenc Tóth, one of the country’s leading hand specialists, who recognized that my hand needed immediate surgery. Since then a long scar can be seen on my arm, but my hand recovered completely – I had no complaints and could return to playing”.
But only a few days before that the result of the biopsy arrived and it transpired that some suspicious cells had been found in the muscular tissue of the operated arm. The doctors prescribed a new examination and another operation. To the great relief of the goalkeeper and his family it transpired that with this kind of tumour there is no risk of it spreading to the lungs and the need for a second operation and post-operative therapy is required only to rule out any further source of danger.
“My contract in Greece has come to an end and with a successful season behind me there were some great career opportunities in front of me, but for the time being I cannot dwell on these, and I wouldn’t want to put a club’s management in such an awkward situation that they have to deal with my problem. I am sure however, that after a few months I will be ready both physically and mentally, to continue playing football. What is more, I’d like to train between the treatment courses, as the doctors have said this is fine, and, in fact, they heartily recommend it’.
Fülöp is preparing to return to his favourite city Budapest, to be among family. His father and manager Ferenc was a top-flight footballer and later for decades a club director of MTK. His mother Gabriella was a top-level basketball player, also for MTK.
Capped 24 times, Fülöp made his national team debut in 2004 under Lothar Matthäus and afterwards played under Hungary head coaches Péter Bozsik, Péter Várhidi, Erwin Koeman and Sándor Egervári. He began at BVSC and from the age of twelve played for MTK, during which period he was loaned out as a junior to their sister sides BKV Előre and Bodajk FC, before signing for Tottenham Hotspur while already a U21 international. At Spurs he was on the bench behind England international Paul Robinson but later racked up almost 50 appearances in the Premiership for Sunderland, Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion. For shorter periods he played on loan at Football League clubs including Chesterfield, Leicester City, Stoke City and Ipswich Town. In the season just finished he played for Greek top-tier team Asteras Tripoli and in May celebrated his 30th birthday.
Now, relatives, fans and friends have created a “Get well soon, Marci Fülöp!” page on Facebook. “I am very grateful for all the messages and good wishes - it really helps me during this period that many are thinking of me” Márton said. “I’ll be following the Facebook page and from time to time shall publish my most important news, but I ask everyone, including the media to respect the fact that I’d like to concentrate strictly on my recovery and will be unavailable for comment over the coming few months. I feel that I have covered the matter in this interview – I didn’t want to cover anything up as I feel I must be honest with the public and those who follow my career. I have thus brought my illness out into the open, the news of my operation, and soon I shall let you know about my full recovery!”
Those who know Márton Fülöp’s sporting virtues and positive approach can rest assured that the goalkeeper, still young and in his prime, will once again don the Hungarian national team’s goalkeeper shirt.
Interview & Article: György Szöllősi, FourFourTwo Hungary