Monday 08 June 2020, 06:00

Jakabfi: I'm trying to bring German mindset to Hungary

  • Zsanett Jakabfi has played for VfL Wolfsburg since 2009

  • She made her international debut for Hungary in 2007

  • Jakabfi speaks about challenges and possible gains of COVID-19 shutdown

Home is where the heart is.

This is a sentiment to which Zsanett Jakabfi fully subsribes. Already one of Wolfsburg’s longest-serving players, the Hungarian-born midfielder extended her contract by another year at the start of 2020 to ensure that she will play her 12th season for the She-Wolves.

Jakabfi was just 19 years old when she moved to Germany and the Bundesliga back in 2009. When asked why she had remained so loyal to Wolfsburg, her answer was clear: "It’s the atmosphere within this team," she explained in an interview with, "but also the professionalism and the journey many of us have taken with the club – perhaps not every player, but some of us. That makes it a very special place for me and also explains why I’ve been here for so long."

It is a journey that has resulted in 13 titles: two UEFA Women’s Champions League triumphs, five Bundesliga winners’ medals and six DFB Cup trophies. If Jakabfi gets her way, she will add three more successes to her lengthy list of honours this season.

The She-Wolves are still in contention in every major competition and do not seem to have been affected by the coronavirus break. In fact, Wolfsburg have simply picked up where they left off since the Women’s Bundesliga season resumed on 29 May.

"We have plenty of ambition and clear targets, and we never lost sight of these goals despite the exceptional circumstances. That’s precisely what sets our team apart," the eight-time Hungarian female footballer of the year explained. "Of course, things don’t always go to plan out on the pitch. It’s very rare for us to have a three-month break, and everyone is understandably short of match practice, but we are giving it our best and trying to play our game nonetheless. That is also why we have been able to win these matches so convincingly."

Despite her team’s victories in the Bundesliga and their march to the semi-finals of the DFB Cup, this unusual situation has also given Jakabfi cause to reflect. "We didn’t have the freedom to visit our families," she said. "What if something had happened? Of course, you shouldn’t think like that, but quarantining alone in Wolfsburg without family was a little tough," the midfielder added.

"The trick is to take something positive from every difficult situation. I do think there were some positive aspects. We had time to slow down, so to speak – time to think about all kinds of things or time to spend with our partners. There are always things that you try to do better when you hear how many terrible things there are going on in the world. You automatically become more contemplative, and I also think this period will lead to change and that we’ll learn to appreciate things more."

Jakabfi also appreciates the know-how she has gained in Germany. This experience has also benefited Hungary’s national team, for whom she made her international debut in 2007. The team is currently 43rd in the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking and occupies third place in Group F of UEFA Women’s EURO qualifying.

"There’s definitely been progress, though perhaps not to the extent we imagined in Hungary – particularly when it comes to the national team," said Jakabfi when asked where Hungarian women’s football is heading. "The league and national side have certainly become much more professional. We now have coaches who do the job full-time. These are steps that are helping to improve the women’s game in Hungary. Nevertheless, we still have some work to do to become world class at some stage."

Having come of age in footballing terms in Germany, the 30-year-old wants to play her part in pushing this process forward. "I’m trying to pass on what I’ve learned, experienced and picked up here – particularly at Wolfsburg – back in Hungary," she explained. "I’m also trying to pass on a bit of that German mindset, which is all about having a fighting spirit and never giving up – it’s about robustness and total determination."