The Hungarian was apparently pretty crap, although in fairness I’m not sure how people came to that conclusion as sightings of him at Anfield were only slightly more common than those of the ‘lesser spotted Frank McGarvey’.
Istvan made only six league appearances for the reds, which I suppose in itself was testimony to his lack of quality. After all, if he couldn’t get a game in Graeme Souness’ God-awful side, he must have been pretty poor.
Souness had been impressed with Kozma’s form in the Scottish league with Dunfermline, where apparently he’d given Rangers a lot of problems whenever he’d faced them. Souness remembered that, and brought the player to Anfield for £300k in February 1992. He made ten appearances in two seasons for the club, but I must admit the only thing I remember about Kozma’s Liverpool career was one glorious 45 minute cameo in the remarkable 4-4 draw with Chesterfield in the League Cup at Anfield.
I was 18 years old, and was stood on the Kop with a couple of mates. We’d got in a few hours early, as we used to do back then to ensure we got the spec we wanted. The stadium was half empty that night, and those of us who were there could hardly believe what we witnessed in the first half. David James, Nick Tanner and Mark Wright were appalling, as Liverpool’s defence leaked like the proverbial sieve.
Amazingly, the team from two divisions below the reds went into a 3-0 first half lead. It was shaping up to be one of the lowest points in the club’s history, until an unlikely hero arrived on the scene to save the day.
Kozma was introduced at half time, and was a revelation as he inspired a second half comeback that eventually saw the reds salvage a 4-4 draw. His trickery and crossing ability made a massive difference to the previously toothless reds, as Liverpool laid siege to the goal at the Kop end. The atmosphere in that second half was great, and it was all inspired by the Hungarian.
The Kop were in full voice that night, and it was probably the one and only time as a Liverpool player Kozma heard his name chanted. It was actually my mate who started it, giving it the “IIIISSSSSTTTVVVAAANNNN, IIIISSSSSTTTVVVAAANNNN” (just like “IIIIIIIIGGGGGOOOORRRRRR”) after he’d set up a goal (for Ronny Rosenthal I think).
Having excelled in the Scottish League, Chesterfield was probably his level and it was the one and only time he made any impression as a Liverpool player. Not being able to get a game in one of the worst Liverpool sides in living memory says a lot. But never mind Istvan, we’ll always have that wonderous night against Chesterfield….. Altogether now, one for the road: “IIIISSSSSTTTVVVAAANNNN, IIIISSSSSTTTVVVAAANNNN!!!”