BORDEAUX, France (AP) — Gyorgy Garics could make the unusual move of singing both national anthems when Austria and Hungary play each other in the European Championship on Tuesday.
Garics was born in Hungary but moved to Vienna when he was 14. The defender elected to play for Austria, making his senior debut in 2006 after captaining the Under-21 side.
“There are bound to be special emotions,” Garics said. “I’ve never heard the Hungarian anthem on the pitch. I’ll definitely sing along to the Austrian one. If I also maybe sing along to the Hungarian one, no one can hold it against me.”
Historically, the two countries are joined at the hip. The Austro-Hungarian Empire governed the two nations from Vienna from 1867 to 1918, when it split into five countries.
Portugal will be favorite to top Group F but Austria is one of the dark horses of the tournament, despite this being the first European Championship it has qualified for. It appeared as co-hosts at Euro 2008 but failed to win in three games.
Coach Marcel Koller took over in 2011 and instigated a football revival which culminated in Austria sealing qualification with style.
Austria finished top of its group, eight points above Russia, having gone through qualification unbeaten, conceding just five goals and winning nine of its 10 matches.
“Qualification is now behind us,” Koller said after his team’s arrival in France. “I’m not someone who lives in the past.”
But with Austria in one of the weakest groups of the tournament, with Iceland completing the quartet, the pressure is on.
Captain Christian Fuchs brings a winning mentality to the squad having been a key part of the Leicester side which took the Premier League by storm last season, while midfielder David Alaba has won a host of trophies with Bayern Munich.
There is also considerable strength in the team beyond that duo, which means that expectations are high back home.
There will be much less pressure on close neighbor Hungary, whose fans are just delighted their country has ended a wait of three decades.
Hungary, which had three coaches during the qualification campaign, won a playoff against Norway to reach its first major tournament since the 1986 World Cup.
Hungary goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly will become the oldest person to feature at a European Championship finals if, as expected, he plays against Austria aged 40 years and 75 days.
The current record is held by Lothar Matthaus, who was 39 years and 91 days when Germany played Portugal at Euro 2000.
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