Liverpool Reserve keeper Peter Gulacsi was the third Hungarian to join the Reds from MTK Hungaria back in 2007, after Krisztian Nemeth and Andras Simon. Gulacsi initially joined Liverpool on loan from the Hungarian outfit as part of the agreement which Liverpool set up with Hungaria that has seen many of the club’s best young players make the trip to Anfield. Gulacsi had a successful spell on loan with the Reds and played a part in Gary Ablett’s treble winning reserve side in 2007/2008 campaign. So impressed with the performance of the player, Liverpool decided to take the option up to buy the player and for the start of the 2008/09 season, Gulacsi was officially signed as a Liverpool player on the last day of the transfer window. Gulacsi was delighted about signing for the Reds:
“I am very proud to have signed for Liverpool. It’s a dream for me to be working at such a great club alongside one of the best goalkeepers in the world, Pepe Reina. After spending one year on loan I had no hesitation in agreeing to sign a permanent contract. To have signed for Liverpool is an unbelievable feeling.”
Since signing permanently for the club, Gulacsi’s keeping has gone from strength to strength. He has become a regular in Hungary Under 21 squad after being an unused substitute for the senior team in a 1-1 draw against Croatia back in May 2008. His most significant contribution at international level though was during the FIFA U-20 World Cup last year. He helped Hungary to the semi-finals of the tournament and played a crucial role in helping the side win the Third Place Play-off. In the match against Costa Rica, Gulacsi saved three penalties in the penalty shoot-out, winning third place and helping the team to a bronze medal for their efforts in the tournament.
At club level, Gulacsi spent the first half of the 2008/09 season in the Liverpool reserves before he was loaned out to League One side Hereford United in the 2009 January transfer window. It is one thing playing in the reserves but it is another playing for a team struggling in the third tier of English football. The loan spell was designed to give the young Hungarian the experience of playing competitive football, and the 18 games he played certainly gave him that. He proved his top class abilities in his first game for the club, helping the team to a famous win over Leeds United by saving a penalty and pulling off a number of spectacular saves to keep their more illustrious opponents out. He continued to perform heroics in the Bulls’ goal for the rest of the season but he couldn’t prevent them from being relegated. A keeper, who is a consistent top class performer and pulls off at least three top class saves per match, is a rare commodity and is somebody Rafa Benitez should be keen to keep hold of.
It is something that he has proved once again this season in the Liverpool reserves. No more so than last night when he made several high quality stops when the scores were still level at 0-0 against Bolton. He saved a chance early on in the match from Michael O’Halloran as the winger drove the ball towards goal from a tight angle. He also parried a long-range free-kick from Aaron Mooy in the first half and palmed away a rasping shot from Sam Sheridan in the second period. Reserve coach John McMahon was unequivocal in his praise for the keeper:
“Peter is fantastic to have in the team. He is very reliable and he made some great saves for us. I felt for him at the end when we conceded a late goal because he prides himself on clean sheets and to be honest he deserved one.”
Gulacsi is definitely a player to watch out for in the coming years and it wouldn’t surprise me if he became Pepe Reina’s number two not too long in the future.