By Jack Miller
WHEN Balint Bajner was hauled off just 44 minutes into a lacklustre Ipswich debut by boss Mick McCarthy, he had no idea he was about to catapult himself to cult-hero status in his native Hungary.
When asked why he was taken off so early in the season-opening clash with Fulham, the hitherto unknown striker’s Nicklas Bendtner-style response of ‘so the fans could applaud me’ propelled him to a high level of fame in his homeland.
The 24-year-old made just four more appearances – all off the bench – before being exiled to Notts County on loan in January. But Hungary was not impressed.
The phrase “no Bajner, no party!” was posted thousands of times on the Tractor Boys’ Facebook page as disgruntled Hungarians demanded his return to the team.
And Bajner confirmed his status as English football’s most unlikely fanfavourite on his arrival at Meadow Lane. With #NoBajnerNoParty trending worldwide on Twitter, his new employers had to take drastic action and blocked the whole of Hungary on Facebook, as Bajner posts went into overdrive.
But the surprisingly humble 6ft 5in hitman insists the incident was a lesson learned, and is set on proving that he is more Zlatan Ibrahimovic than Bendtner by banging in goals aplenty for Notts.
“I can only smile when I hear about that,” he said. “It always makes me laugh and even the other players in the dressing room are saying it now.
“For me it’s a funny thing and nothing else. I don’t give any special thought to it or think I am better than anyone else because of it.
“That is away from the pitch. If I get the job done on the pitch then I don’t really mind whether they speak about me or not.
“Most people like the ‘No Bajner, no party’ thing but others do not. Sometimes it is too much and I try to just concentrate on the football.
“When I came off after 44 minutes for Ipswich and said those things, it was not the best thing to do, and all this has come from that.
“So I’ve learned that I have to concentrate on the football whether things are good or bad, and I want to let what I do on the pitch do the talking now.”
The party is only just beginning for Bajner, who sent County’s social media haywire once again when he netted his first goal in a 1-0 victory at Leyton Orient.
The ecstatic Hungarian sprinted the length of the pitch to share the moment with over 100 of his countrymen who had flown over especially, as the Magpies ended a run of three straight defeats.
Having learnt his trade from some of Europe’s hottest talent at Borussia Dortmund, Bajner clearly has some star-quality about him.
And despite being scarcely used by Jurgen Klopp on his arrival in 2012, Bajner admits the opportunity to study the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Mario Götze first-hand had a huge impact on his development.
He added: “It was a fantastic experience to be at Dortmund as a young player as they cared about me and my development there.
“Jurgen Klopp worked with me a lot as well; he wanted to make me a better footballer and did special exercise and training for me.
“It was a really good group and there were a lot of players I looked up to as a 21-year-old.
“When I made my debut it felt fantastic to be out there with those players; Götze, Lewandowski, Marco Reus.
“I learnt a lot from them. They were great players with great personalities too, and I actually only got my chance when Lewandowski got a red card, so I guess I owe him some thanks for that too!”