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  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

Manager Series: Desiderio Koszegi

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

Desiderio Koszegi was Lazio manager in the 1924-25 and 1925-26 seasons.

Source Wikipedia

Dezso Koszegi (his name was later Italianised to Desiderio) was born in Budapest on August 31, 1895. As a footballer we could call him a defensive “all-rounder” in that he played in goal and all the defence positions. He spent most of his career with Budapesti TC, the first football club of the country founded in 1897, and one of the founders of the Hungarian football league of which they won the first two editions. Koszegi played for them from 1908 to 1921 before he moved to Pistoiese as player manager in 1921. He stayed in Tuscany until 1924 with great success as the team did very well in all the regional competitions.

In 1924 he signed for Lazio. The Biancoceleste partner and one of the directors Giuseppe Ercoli decided to hire him. However, at that time Lazio were purely amateur (in the Olympic spirit) so he paid the Hungarian’s wages himself since the President Fortunato Ballerini had no intention of forking out money thus going against his and the club’s principles. Ercoli was convinced that the only way forward for the club was to turn to professionalism and the signing of Koszegi was a first step.

Lazio were clearly not equipped to fight against the northern powers but in the first year the Biancoclesti did rather well. They came second in the Southern League of the First Division and proceeded to the semi-final group. Here they came joint first with Anconitana and had to face a play-off. Unfortunately Lazio lost.

The Biancocelesti did not do well in their second year arriving third in their Regional group and missing out on qualification both for the semi-final stage as well as the following year’s national division. Koszegi was not confirmed.

After Lazio, Koszegi had a couple of further stints with Pistoiese. In 1931-32 the Tuscan club came 17th in Serie B but were saved from relegation because for the following year the second tier was enlarged to 26 teams. In 1936 he substituted Leonardo Mione who had taken Istvan Meszaros' place but could not save Pistoiese from relegation to Serie C (they lost the playoff with Viareggio).

Koszegi was a very important manager in Lazio's history. He introduced new advanced training methods and helped the club move from an amateur level to a more professional one. It was he who increased the weekly sessions from one to three (Tuesday, Thursday and Friday). Lazio did not have a great team, with the exception of Fulvio Bernardini, so he did what he could.

He died in Budapest on March 20, 1951.



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