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Dominik Szoboszlai is feeling the love at RB Leipzig. - © Martin Rose/Getty Images
Dominik Szoboszlai is feeling the love at RB Leipzig. - © Martin Rose/Getty Images
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Dominik Szoboszlai: 5 things on Liverpool's former RB Leipzig and Hungary midfielder

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Dominik Szoboszlai is friends with Erling Haaland as the pair reunite in England and is a hero in his native Hungary - but what else is there to know about the former RB Leipzig playmaker as he joins Liverpool? bundesliga.com fills in the gaps...

1) Football in the family

Szoboszlai’s dad, Zsolt, used to be a professional footballer, so there is clearly something in the water in their hometown of Szekesfehervar. Dominik started playing from a young age, even foregoing other toys, such was his love of the game. “I never had any Lego or anything like that, the only thing I was interested in was a football,” he told Four Four Two.

His father took it upon himself to be his coach, and in 2007 he even formed his own youth team, Akademie Fönix Gold FC, in order to be able to properly oversee his son’s development.

Watch: All Szoboszlai's Bundesliga goals and assists in 2022/23

“He would carry on training me whenever the team’s training sessions finished,” Szoboszlai said. “I’ve always done more than everyone else.”

And it paid off. “He always had the ambition to become a coach, so we started to work together when I was three,” he explained to Goal. “Except for one year, he was my coach until I joined the Red Bull Academy. He was and still is a huge inspiration and idol for me.

“My father was the key factor in my development. The [huge number of] hours he has spent practising and advising me are impossible to forget.”

Watch: Dominik Szoboszlai on his friendship with Erling Haaland

2) Friends with Haaland

Szoboszlai is, by his own admission, “very good friends” with Manchester City and former Dortmund star striker Haaland thanks to the 12 months they spent together at Salzburg in 2019. The duo, alongside Takumi Minamino, formed a considerable attacking trident, and given Szoboszlai’s love of making and taking goals – the right-footer scored 12 and provided 18 assists in 40 games in his last full season in Salzburg – it is hardly surprising he and the Norwegian goalscoring machine get along so well.

“He often told me what I needed to do and how to do it best, like a leader,” Szoboszlai said of Haaland, three months his senior, in an interview with kicker while the striker was making waves with Dortmund.

“I miss him. We’re still in touch. If I have time then I pay him a flying visit, or vice versa. We’ve stayed in contact."

Szoloszlai put his free-kick prowess to the test against Bayern Munich in the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League group phase. - Huter /Eibner-Pressefoto via www.imago-images.de/imago images/Eibner Europa

3) Set-piece specialist

“In terms of technique, I don’t think I’m too bad,” Szoboszlai told kicker with heavy understatement when asked about his ability. Comfortable on the left wing or more centrally as an attacking playmaker, he previously described himself as “a very versatile player who can shoot well and thread the final pass through.” He went on to add another of his stand-out qualities: “Free-kicks and set-pieces in general are among my strengths.”

He immediately backed that up in his full Bundesliga debut in August 2021 against Stuttgart, with Szoboszlai's devilishly arrowed free-kick from out wide evading everyone but the net for his second goal of the night. He wasn't finished there, of course, showing his set-piece mastery several times since - for instance by sinking a free-kick from 30 metres out against Stuttgart in January 2023.

"My aim was always to score a goal, and luck was on my side," he said after that, modestly. His former coach in the Hungary U21s, Michael Boris, who worked with a 16-year-old Szoboszlai in that age category, says that hard work and confidence are the secrets to his success from a dead ball.

“He knows exactly what he’s capable of,” he told Goal. “Not in an arrogant way; even in his younger years he always had a very realistic view of his ability. That was very impressive.

"In the 21s we had a lot of players who were already playing in the top-flight with senior teams. But whenever we got a free-kick, and despite being younger than everyone else, Dominik just grabbed the ball as if it was the most natural thing in the world, and he’d take it.”

Watch: Szoboszlai on his double against Stuttgart in January 2023

4) Tattoo reminder, thankful to Rose

While Szoboszlai’s skill, vision and ease on the ball are evident for all to see, he also possesses another vital attribute for any young player looking to make it to the top: hard work and determination.

That has not always been the case, though, and he is grateful to current Dortmund coach Rose for instilling those qualities in him.

The playmaker joined Salzburg’s youth academy as a 16-year-old in 2017, and after a successful season at the club’s feeder team FC Liefering in the Austrian second division, scoring 16 goals in 42 appearances, he felt he was ready to make the breakthrough into the first team.

Things didn’t quite pan out that way, however - the stymied development Szoboszlai admits “was my fault. I’d played for Liefring in the second division and when I joined the pros I thought I could just continue doing what I’d been doing,” he said. “I thought that the way I’d played until then was definitely good enough for the first division.”

The attacking midfielder believes he owes a debt of gratitude to Marco Rose, who has coached him in both Salzburg and Leipzig, for setting him on the right course. - GEPA pictures/ Florian Ertl/imago/GEPA pictures

Rose, who was in charge at Salzburg from 2017 to 2019 before joining Borussia Mönchengladbach, had other ideas, however, and made sure the attacker knew he could not coast along if he was to make it to the top: “Marco’s a different kind of person, but if he hadn’t shown me that I needed change, and change my attitude, then I probably wouldn’t be here now.”

Indeed, so important was that lesson to Szoboszlai that he had a permanent reminder tattooed on his left arm: “Talent is given by God. But without determination and sacrifice, it's worth nothing”.

5) Hungarian hero

March 2019 was the month that sent Szoboszlai's career path on its stratospheric trajectory. On 14 March 2019, Rose gave Szoboszlai his UEFA Europa League debut in the last 16 second leg at home to a strong Napoli side coached by Carlo Ancelotti. Szoboszlai, then aged just 18, seized his moment and was the best player on the pitch, picking up an assist in a 3-1 triumph.

Exactly a week later, Szoboszlai made his first full international appearance for Hungary - where his ferocious talent had always been widely known. Free-kick goals in the red Hungary shirt were the logical next step in the story - and duly came against Slovakia and Turkey.

Szoloszlai captained Hungary and scored in a 3-0 win over Bulgaria in March 2023. - IMAGO/STUDIO FOTOGRAFICO BUZZI SRL/IMAGO/Buzzi

By November 2020, the boy had already etched a proud place in Hungary's considerable football history. A curling shot that found the net via the post sealed Hungary’s place at UEFA Euro 2020 in dramatic style in a 2-1 European qualifying play-off win against Iceland - with Szoboszlai netting in the second minute of stoppage time.

That gave Hungary only their second appearance at a major tournament in 48 years, and even if injury denied Szoboszlai the opportunity to shine at UEFA Euro 2020, he soon picked up where he left off. In June 2022 he scored the decisive penalty as Hungary beat England 1-0 - their first victory over the Three Lions in 50 years.

That November, having just turned 22, Szoboszlai's international team-mates and coach Marco Rossi elected him the new Hungary captain - following in the footsteps of former Hoffenheim, Mainz and Schalke striker Adam Szalai and the great Ferenc Puskas.