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Gábor Ferenc Király ( ) (born 1 April 1976 in Szombathelymarker) is a Hungarianmarker footballer who plays as a goalkeeper. He is currently playing for 1860 Munich, in the 2. Bundesliga.

Club career

Early career

Born in Szombathelymarker, Király began his career with local club Szombathelyi Haladás in 1993, moving to Germanmarker Bundesliga club Hertha BSC in 1997.

Herta BSC

At Hertha, he was initially the second-choice keeper, but after a streak of seven matches without a win, he was chosen over the first-choice goalkeeper Christian Fiedler for Hertha's home match against 1. FC Köln on 28 September 1997 in which they managed their first Bundesliga victory that season. He subsequently became the first-choice keeper and Fiedler did not appear in the Bundesliga for more than two years, until February 2000, when Király missed seven league matches due to an injury. He also appeared in 10 UEFA Champions League matches for Hertha in the 1999-2000 season of the competition.

However, after Hans Meyer was named the new Hertha coach in the winter break of the 2003-04 Bundesliga season, Király lost his place in the starting line-up and Fiedler was named the first-choice keeper after spending most of the previous six years on the bench. Király was then told his contract would only be renewed if he took a pay cut. In the spring of 2004, he only played the last 14 minutes of Hertha's final Bundesliga match of the season, against 1. FC Köln; the same club against whom he had made his Bundesliga debut.

Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace] made Király their first signing for the 2004-05 season; but also signed Argentinemarker goalkeeper Julián Speroni later that pre-season and it was he who was initially installed as the first-choice keeper. Király made his debut for Palace in the Carling Cup game at home to Hartlepool United where his performance, along with the poor form of Speroni, resulted in his promotion to the first choice in Palace goal. He stayed in the first team for over 12 months before being rested over the Christmas period in 2005, making 32 Premier League appearances before Palace were relegated back to the Championship following the 2004-05 season. After the rest, he went straight back into the Palace side, and kept his place for the remainder of the 2005-06 season in which he made 43 appearances in the Championship.

On 18 May 2006, Király made a transfer request. With the signing of Scott Flinders, it seemed he would leave Crystal Palace and his chances of securing a move to the Premier League seemed to increase on 30 May, when he impressed for Hungary in their 3-1 defeat to England, saving a penalty by Frank Lampard in the process. However, Bob Dowie, Palace's director of football, revealed that the club had received no offers for the keeper's services, and thus he started a third season at Palace.

New manager Peter Taylor installed Király as his number-one choice in goal, with Flinders as his backup, but later on in the season Flinders was recalled from a loan spell and replaced Király in the starting line-up. However, Flinders only played two games, conceding seven goals and giving Király a quick return to the first team.

West Ham United

Kirali had a two-week loan spell at Premier League side West Ham United from mid-November to early December 2006 in which he did not make an appearance, spending three matches on the bench as an unused substitute.

Aston Villa

He then returned to Palace, but almost immediately left for another loan spell at Aston Villa for one month, following injuries to Villa's regular keepers Thomas Sørensen and Stuart Taylor. At Villa, Király eventually managed a return to playing Premier League football after an eighteen month absence following Palace's relegation. He was given his Villa debut on 16 December 2006 in their 1-0 defeat to Bolton Wanderers at Villa Parkmarker. The last match in his loan spell at Villa was their third-round FA Cup match against Manchester United at Old Traffordmarker on 7 January 2007. After an otherwise strong performance, Kiraly's late error gifted Manchester United a 2-1 victory. Following Sørensen and Taylor's return to fitness, he was allowed to return to Palace on 12 January 2007.

Back to Palace

By the end of January 2007, he made a return in the Palace goal, with his first league match being a goalless draw away at Sunderland on 30 January 2007. Király continued in the team until the end of the season, when Speroni stepped in with three games remaining. After the last game, Taylor announced that Gábor had left the club in the week before the match.

Burnley

Király joined Burnley on 30 May 2007 after being released by Crystal Palace.

Bayer Leverkusen

In January 2009 Kiraly left Burnley on loan to Bayer Leverkusen as cover for their injured second choice keeper.

Munich 1860

In June 2009 Kiraly was released by Burnley at the end of his contract along side Steve Jones and Alan Mahon. On 3 June 2009 signed a three-year contract with TSV 1860 München.

International career

Király appeared in 70 international matches for the Hungarian national team since making his debut in 1998. During the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying, he was the only player in the Hungarian squad to appear in all of their ten qualifying matches. He has not played for the national team since the embarrassing 2-1 defeat by Malta on 11 October 2006, but was called up to the squad for the World Cup Qualifiers against Sweden and Portugal in September 2009 and has remained in the squad despite being second choice behind Gábor Babos.

Style

Király is also recognizable for wearing a pair of tracksuit bottoms instead of shorts in almost every match he plays. Some pundits joke that he appears to playing in pyjama-bottoms. During his time in English leagues, the only two known times when he wore shorts instead of tracksuit bottoms was when Crystal Palace played Chelsea at Stamford Bridgemarker, where he let a shot from Mateja Kežman embarrassingly slip between his legs as the Blues won 4-1, and against Premier League side Aston Villa, in his first league appearance for Palace. While at Hertha, he wore shorts made of the same material as the tracksuit bottoms he's usually wearing in two or three matches, but the only known match where he wore regular shorts was Hertha's UEFA Cup fixture at home against Polishmarker club Dyskobolia in 2003, where the Spanishmarker referee allegedly told him before the match that he is not allowed to play in training clothes.

He also has an interesting pre-kick-off routine where he runs to the goalline, touches the crossbar, and then stands still on the goalline with his hands behind his back until the referee starts the match.

Honours

Hertha BSC
  • German champions: Third place 1999
  • League Cup: 2001, 2002
    • Runners-up: 2000
  • Hungarian Footballer of the Year: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001


Notes

  1. Gábor Király's profile and stats at Weltfussball.de
  2. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/fa_cup/6213959.stm
  3. Kiraly Looks Set for Loan to Bayer Leverkusen
  4. Kiraly zu 1860 München


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