The Chicago Fire soccer team announced their acquisition of 28-year-old Hungarian international striker Nemanja Nikolic from the Polish club, Legia Warsaw. Nikolic is a super hot player. Chicago Fire beat out English Premier League club, Hull City, and several Chinese Super League teams to sign him.
Nemanja Nikolic, a Hungarian soccer player? The 29 year-old has an interesting story.
He was born in Serbia (actually in Yugoslavia in 1987) in the city of Senta (Zenta in Hungarian). The city was illegally occupied by pro-Hitler dictator Miklós Horthy in 1941 and annexed to Hungary. Just a year before Count Pál Teleki, Hungary’s Prime Minister, negotiated a treaty of friendship with Yugoslavia. Teleki was so distressed by the cowardice of Horthy and his pro-Hitler cronies that he committed suicide.
Hungary used the occupation to alienate the mixed population of the area. Thousands of ethnic Serbs, Jews and other “undesirables” were murdered by Horthy’s henchman. The brutality of the mass murders shocked the world and it foreshadowed things to come in Hungary: mass murders of Jews and Gypsies. In 1944 Tito’s partisans took revenge and many ethnic Hungarians of this area fell victim of the reprisal. It took decades to heal the ethnic rift in Senta.
Nemanja Nicolic’s father is an ethnic Serb while his mother is Hungarian. In 2008 Nikolić moved from Serbia to Hungary and signed with Kaposvár. Two years later he moved to Videoton where he became the top scorer and his team won the Hungarian League.
In 2015 he joined Legia, the Polish premier team based in Warsaw. There he scored 41 goals in 58 matches helping the club to the 2015-16 Polish top title. He also won the golden boot and player of the year honors.
Chicago Fire recently hired super-talented – also Yugoslavia-born – coach Veljko Paunović, who wanted to bring in fresh talent. Nemanja Nikolic got the call and signed with the Chicago team.
Nemanja, welcome to the United States! We wish you lots of success. I encourage my fellow Hungarian-Americans to keep an eye on this young man; he is a remarkable player.