Ádám Csaba Szalai (born 9 December 1987) is a Hungarian footballer who plays for German club TSG 1899 Hoffenheim as a striker.
He spent most of his career in Germany, signing in 2004 with Stuttgart and going on to represent mainly Mainz 05. He also spent three years in Spain with Real Madrid Castilla.
An Hungarian international since 2009, Szalai was part of the squad at Euro 2016.
Early years / Stuttgart
Szalai started his career in his hometown of Budapest, playing for Budapest Honvéd FC and Újpest FC. In 2004 he moved to Germany to complete his formation, spending two years in the youth ranks of VfB Stuttgart.
Szalai made his senior debuts in the 2006–07 season, playing with the B-team in Regionalliga Süd.
Real Madrid Castilla
In August 2007, Szalai was transferred to Real Madrid Castilla, the reserve team of Real Madrid, for approximately €500.000.
In his second season in Segunda División B – the only division in which he competed during his spell in Spain – he scored 16 goals in 37 games, but the side could only rank sixth, thus missing out on the playoffs.
On 9 January 2010, Real Madrid loaned Szalai to 1. FSV Mainz 05, until June. He made his Bundesliga debut seven days later, coming on as a 63rd-minute substitute in a 2–4 away loss against Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
Szalai scored his first goal for Mainz in a 1–0 home win over Borussia Dortmund on 10 April 2010. He netted his second against FC Bayern Munich on 25 September in a 2–1 away win, with a powerful shot into the top corner in what was the Rhineland-Palatinate club's sixth consecutive win of the season, in an eventual run of seven; on 14 January 2011, in a game against 1. FC Kaiserslautern, the player sustained a knee injury – cruciate ligament – which sidelined him for the remainder of the campaign, in which he scored four goals in 20 games.
On 22 January 2012, Szalai returned to action with Mainz after his injury, playing the second half of a 2–3 loss at Leverkusen. On 1 August he signed a contract extension with the club running until June 2015 and, on 27 October, scored his first hat-trick for the team in a 3–0 home victory against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim.
On 10 February 2013, Szalai scored his 12th goal of the campaign against FC Augsburg, thereby becoming the most productive Hungarian goalscorer in a single German top division season, surpassing both Lajos Détári and Vasile Miriuta, whom netted 11 for Eintracht Frankfurt in 1987–88 and FC Energie Cottbus in 2000–01 respectively. On 15 April, Sky Sports published an article on the player where Horst Heldt, general manager of FC Schalke 04, reportedly showed interest in signing him, pending the club's qualification to the UEFA Champions League in order to fund the transfer.
On 27 June 2013, Szalai signed a four-year contract with Schalke. After making his official debut against amateurs FC Nöttingen, for the season's DFB-Pokal, he played his first league match against Hamburger SV, scoring the hosts' last goal in a 3–3 draw after a shot from Christian Clemens was poorly handled by René Adler.
Szalai was instrumental in helping his team reach the group stage of the Champions League: after a 1–1 draw in the first leg against PAOK FC he grabbed a brace in the second match in Thessaloniki (3–2 win), and played the full 90 minutes on both occasions.
On 3 July 2014, Szalai was transferred to Hoffenheim for €6 million. Alexander Rosen, the sport director, said that he fitted into the club's style. He made his debut for his new team against Augsburg, opened the scoring in a 2–0 home win and was voted "Player of the Day" on the Bundesliga website.
On 22 November 2014, Szalai was sent off for the first time in his career after committing a foul against Dante in the 90th minute of the league fixture against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena, being banned for two matches by the German Football Association. On 12 December, he replaced Anthony Modeste at the hour-mark of a home game against Eintracht Frankfurt: three minutes later he scored the 2–2 equaliser and, in the 87th he provided an assist with his ankle for Roberto Firmino's winner.
On 4 January 2016, after being linked to a host of clubs, Szalai continued in Germany by being loaned out to Hannover 96 for the remainder of the campaign.
Szalai featured regularly with the Hungarian under-21 team. On 11 February 2009 he made his debut with the full side, replacing Zoltán Szélesi in the 84th minute of a 0–1 friendly loss to Israel. On 8 October of the following year, during a UEFA Euro 2012 qualifier against San Marino at the Ferenc Puskás Stadium, he scored three in an 8–0 win; four days later, in the same competition, he contributed with another to a 2–1 dramatic win in Finland.
On 29 February 2012, Szalai returned to the national team setup after his one-year injury with a goal against Bulgaria, in a friendly draw in Győr. On 7 September, in the nation's first 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier, he netted the third for the visitors in an eventual 5–0 triumph in Andorra.
On 16 October 2012, Szalai helped hosts Hungary battle back to beat Turkey 3–1, scoring the second after an assist from Tamás Kádár.
Telki press conference
After a 1–8 defeat in the Netherlands for the 2014 World Cup qualification campaign, Szalai took part in a press conference where he gave poignant answers about what he thought the reasons behind the long-term underachievement of the national side were. Subsequently, he found himself on the international wilderness.
On 13 November 2013, Attila Pintér, manager of Hungarian League club Győri ETO FC, reacted to Szalai's statements and doubted his honesty. The coach claimed that the player said in an interview before the loss in Amsterdam that he did not have any problems with Hungary boss Sándor Egervári, further disapproving of him for his irresponsibility of criticising the Hungarian coaches even though he did not know them.
Hungary played its first match of 2014 on 5 March, and Szalai was left out. In an interview with Nemzeti Sport, he said that he could not comment on his future with the national team since he was not invited and he did not have the option to decide whether to join or not.
On 28 August 2014, Pintér selected his list for the Euro 2016 qualifier against Northern Ireland at the Groupama Arena on 7 September, and Szalai was not on it. On 4 September, he posted an announcement on his Facebook profile saying that he did not want to play for his country as long as Pintér was in charge, and thus became the second Hungarian footballer in 20 years to renounce to the national side after Szabolcs Huszti in 2007.
On 18 September 2014, Pál Dárdai was appointed as Hungary's interim manager. Eight days later Szalai announced his return to the national team, as the new coach stated the player was one of the side's "leading personalities".
On 11 October 2014, Szalai marked his return by featuring the full 90 minutes in Romania in a 1–1 draw for the Euro 2016 qualifiers. Three days later, for the same competition, he scored the game's only goal for an away win over the Faroe Islands in Tórshavn; After the victorious qualifying play-off match against Norway, he was recorded on video attending a bar where fans were celebrating, and after giving a rousing speech about how the latter suffered the most during the unsuccessful period of Hungarian football, bought 200 shots of pálinka for the people present. The next day, he jokingly noted in a Facebook comment that he did not remember giving a speech.
Szalai was selected for Hungary's Euro 2016 squad. He started and scored the opening goal in Hungary's first game in the tournament, a 2–0 win over Austria in Bordeaux; it was his first goal after a 40-match dry spell that lasted over a year.
On 10 October 2016, Szalai netted for the third time in the 2018 World Cup qualifying phase, helping to a 2–0 success in Latvia.
- As of 15 May 2016
|Real Madrid Castilla||2007–08||21||4||—||—||21||4|
- As of 13 November 2016
- As of 13 November 2016 (Hungary score listed first, score column indicates score after each Szalai goal)
|1.||8 October 2010||Ferenc Puskás, Budapest, Hungary||San Marino||2–0||8–0||Euro 2012 qualifying|
|2.||8 October 2010||Ferenc Puskás, Budapest, Hungary||San Marino||4–0||8–0||Euro 2012 qualifying|
|3.||8 October 2010||Ferenc Puskás, Budapest, Hungary||San Marino||5–0||8–0||Euro 2012 qualifying|
|4.||12 October 2010||Olympic Stadium, Helsinki, Finland||Finland||1–0||2–1||Euro 2012 qualifying|
|5.||29 February 2012||ETO Park, Győr, Hungary||Bulgaria||1–0||1–1||Friendly|
|6.||7 September 2012||Estadi Comunal, Andorra la Vella, Andorra||Andorra||3–0||5–0||2014 World Cup qualification|
|7.||16 October 2012||Ferenc Puskás, Budapest, Hungary||Turkey||2–1||3–1||2014 World Cup qualification|
|8.||14 October 2014||Torsvollur, Torshavn, Faroe Islands||Faroe Islands||1–0||1–0||Euro 2016 qualifying|
|9.||14 June 2016||Nouveau Stade, Bordeaux, France||Austria||1–0||2–0||UEFA Euro 2016|
|10.||7 October 2016||Groupama Arena, Budapest, Hungary||Switzerland||1–1||2–3||2018 World Cup qualification|
|11.||7 October 2016||Groupama Arena, Budapest, Hungary||Switzerland||2–2||2–3||2018 World Cup qualification|
|12.||10 October 2016||Skonto Stadium, Riga, Latvia||Latvia||2–0||2–0||2018 World Cup qualification|
|13.||13 November 2016||Groupama Arena, Budapest, Hungary||Andorra||4–0||4–0||2018 World Cup qualification|
- Young Hungarian Player of The Year: 2008
- Bundesliga Player of the Month: December 2012
- Hungarian Player of The Year: 2011, 2012