In May 2009 Peter Gulacsi had just been relegated to League Two with Hereford United and RB Leipzig didn’t exist… 11 years later the goalkeeper has helped the German upstarts reach a Champions League semi-final
- Peter Gulacsi was relegated to League Two with Hereford United in 2009
- It is the same year that his current club RB Leipzig was formed in Germany
- The Hungarian also spent time on loan at Hull and Tranmere while at Liverpool
- 11 years later he has just helped the club reach the Champions League semi-final
It’s May 2009. Peter Gulacsi’s last game for bankrupt Hereford United against MK Dons has ended in relegation from League Two. Meanwhile in mainland Europe, Red Bull Gmbh are planning to form a German football club.
Fast forward 11 years and the Hungarian has just played a key role in helping that club, RB Leipzig, reach a Champions League semi-final.
To add to that, his old club now go by the name of Hereford FC and occupy the National League North after a winding up-order in 2014. It’s fair to say three parties have gone on different paths.
Peter Gulacsi has helped RB Leipzig reach the Champions League semi-final for the first time
11 years ago the Hungarian was relegated to League Two with now liquidated Hereford United
While many are reluctant to paint the energy drink-owned team’s swift rise through football’s divisions as any sort of fairytale story given their financial backing, try telling Gulacsi his rise isn’t.
The 30-year-old might have thought his best chance of competing at the business end of Europe’s top club competition when he left five-time champions Liverpool in 2013 without him making an appearance.
But a move to Red Bull Salzburg — a sister club of Leipzig’s — would prove to be the start of an extraordinary journey to get him to the heights he is at today.
The shot-stopper spent five years at Liverpool but never made a first team appearance
Gulacsi joined the Merseyside club permanently as an 18-year-old from MTK Budapest after a loan spell the year before, completing a trio of signings from the Hungarian club that summer along with Andras Simon and Krisztian Nemeth.
Clearly signed for the future, manager at the time Rafa Benitez sent him out to get some first team action with Hereford and action is certainly what he got, as he recalls often being a busy man between the sticks for the League One bottom side, recalling a ‘training session’ feel after facing ’20 shots a game’ for the strugglers.
Gulacsi also spent time on loan at Tranmere and Hull but never had a full season of action
A place on the bench behind stars such as Pepe Reina was as far as he got for the Reds
The shot-stopper then made 17 appearances for Tranmere Rovers across a series of short-term emergency loans in the first half of the following season.
A chance in the Championship would come the next season, but a knee injury in December that campaign followed by a shortage of ‘keepers at Liverpool would see him return to Liverpool, but a place on the bench would be the closest he got.
At 23, Gulacsi decided to make the move into Europe with Salzburg, helping them achieve a league and cup ‘double-double’ between 2013-15.
He made the move to Austria in 2013 and helped them to a double league and cup double
His performances would earn him a move to Leipzig, where the Red Bull vision was coming to fruition.
After three promotions in six years meant they were now in 2. Bundesliga. The goalkeeper played made just 15 appearances in the first team but another promotion would follow as Leipzig reached the top tier.
Leipzig’s, and Gulasci’s, stock has gone from strength-to-strength since then and the Hungarian’s name is now regularly in the conversations when naming the best goalkeepers in the division.
He moved to Leipzig in 2015 as he, and they, have gone fromm strength to strength
The Leipzig stopper has been pictured flying through the sky on a tightrope in the past
Gulacsi well represents Leipzig’s further model of a careful, considered recruitment approach of avoiding big-name signings and instead opting for younger players who fit a system and can be developed.
It would appear the Hungarian international he has the personality to match his eye-catching career path as well, whether that be being pictured flying through the air on a tightrope or belting out Eye of the Tiger on stage with a wig on with team-mates Emile Forsberg and Massimo Bruno.
He was at his brilliant best to deny Atletico Madrid, including a brave punch in added time which resulted in a boot from desperate striker Alvaro Morata. A small price to pay to help his side reach the semi-final in Lisbon.
From 2009 to 2020, it is some journey for both player and club as Leipzig become one of only four teams left in Europe’s top competition this season, where Gulacsi will be as important as anyone if they are to stop the star names of PSG and reach a European Final.
He also donned a wig as he belted out eye of the tiger with Emile Forsberg and Massimo Bruno
The Hungarian’s brave punched denied Atletico Madrid’s Alvaro Morata on the dying minutes