Stefan Scepovic: Champion of Hungary

On Saturday evening the curtain finally fell on the Hungarian NB1 season and left one former Celt celebrating the second National Title of his much-traveled career.

For the eighth time in the past ten season’s the NB1 was won by a club based outside of the capital, Budapest. On this occasion, Videoton, from the centrally located Szekesfehervar, were crowned Champions for only the third time in the clubs history after defeating defending Champions Budapest Honved 2-0 in the penultimate round of the matches the previous weekend.

The result had left Vidi three points clear of closest challengers Ferencvaros with one round remaining and guaranteed of the title thanks to a better head-to-head record against the Green Eagles.

This is what it means to be Vidi! Champions of Hungary for the 3rd time.

Clinching the title against Honved was made all the more sweeter as it allowed the men from Szekesfehervar to exercise the ghosts of last season and extract an element of revenge on their capital rivals who famously won last season’s title decider between the clubs on the last day of the season on what was intended to be the final hurrah for Honved’s Bozsik Stadion. The old lady was due to be demolished and rebuilt as part of the Government-backed National Stadium Development Program but has since been given a reprieve, for now.

As it happens, Videoton’s own ground, the Sostoi Stadion is currently undergoing redevelopment as part of the same programme, thus forcing Vidi to play their home fixtures at MTK’s Hidegkuti Nandor Stadion and Felcsut’s Pancho Arena.

It was at the latter venue that the penultimate fixture took place with Vidi needing a win to secure the title, a win that was duly served up thanks, in part, to opening goalscorer Stefan Scepovic.

6 goals in 14 games since January. The signing that won the League?

Ex-Celt Scepovic arrived at Vidi during the January transfer window and was considered a huge scalp for the club to attract given his previous success in Scotland and Spain. His arrival in Szekesfehervar allowed Vidi to completed their fearsome Serbian attacking triumvirate by adding Stefan to the existing talents of the experienced Danko Lazovic and Scepovic’s own brother Marko.

Working in tandem the trio has produced some exciting moments in the second of the season. At 35, Lazovic’s legs may not be what they used to be but they brain is still there and allows him to drift deep into space and orchestrate attacks. The main target of Lazovic’s playmaking is the livelier of the two Scepovic’s Marko who, whenever I’ve seen him, likes to play in the channels and create space for older brother Stefan to ‘goal hang’ to great effect.

Given the auspicious circumstances under which Stefan – the name he prefers on the back of his shirt these days – arrived at Celtic Park in 2014[1], he always faced an uphill task in winning round the fans. His apparently lazy demeanor and unwillingness to ‘fight’ for the cause did little to improve his chances and the Serb often found himself playing second fiddle behind Griffiths, Stokes, and Guidetti. However, on the rare occasions, he was given a chance in the team, his predatory penalty box instincts generally served him well as important close-range goals against Kilmarnock, Astra, and Dinamo Zagreb proved.

The rare but beautiful sight of Stefan Scepovic enjoying a Celtic goal

At Celtic, Scepovic was the wrong player at the wrong player. Where manager Deila was looking for players with movement and creativity up front, Scepovic harked back to an older age where strikers did their work from about 12 yards range or closer. Asking Scepovic to constantly link the play and drag defenders out of position was an alien concept to him, but present him with a cutback, square pass, or loose ball in the box and there was a good chance the ball would end up net bound.

Unfortunately, Stefan’s time at Celtic was short lived and a move back to Spain where he’d previously scored freely with Sporting Gijon beckoned before making the switch to Hungary and joining up with brother Marko at Vidi.

Since his January transfer, Stefan has scored 6 goals in 14 league appearances, including 3 in the final 3 games of the season. Perhaps with his brother and fellow Serb Lazovic by his side, the 28-year-old nomad may finally have found a club to settle down with.[2]

The early signs have been positive and if Vidi can keep serving up the chances, there are few more predatory strikers in the NB1 to finish them than Stefan Scepovic.

Now, what say a reunion at Celtic Park in the Champions League Qualifiers? Wouldn’t that be tasty?

[1] Scepovic had a change of heart about signing for Celtic on the day he was due to sign stating that he wanted to pursue other options. He later performed a U-Turn the following day, eventually signing a four-year deal at Celtic Park.

[2] Videoton are already the 14th club of Scepovic’s career.

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