For two years Robert Mak was one of the strongest players on the under-21 national team and its leader. He joined the team under coach Boris Kitka and after the baton was handed over to Ivan Galád, Robert then fully developed his talents and skills in this squad. He played 20 matches, scoring two goals for the national team. In the Euro 2013 qualifiers, he had the longest playing time among all the players, starting in nine games and spending 792 minutes on the pitch. In this interview, he sums up his successful performance with the under-21 team.

How do you remember your beginnings with the under-21 team and what followed afterward?

„In the beginning it always tends to be cold, you don’t know either the guys or the complete team... Then you start getting used to it, until it comes to a point where you never want it to end. We were an outstanding bunch, both the players or coaches. We played our first match in France, losing 3:1, so the start was not pleasant. However, it eventually got so good that no one wanted to say goodbye.“

Which game was the most memorable for you, and when were you sad and disappointed?

„There were two long years, beautiful games, but also less nice ones. Perhaps the most fantastic were the home matches against France and Kazakhstan. The scene in Michalovce was unforgettable, where we sold out the stadium, but unfortunately, we lost to the Romanians 2:0. Such is football. In short, I have seen some wonderful matches with the team and played very well for it.“

There were many players on the team. Which of them were your closest friends?

„As I said, we all got on great - both players and coaches - at the end we became a large family. And everyone in it knew what to do. Everyone did their job and had nothing else to think about. We were all good friends, I tried to get on very well with everyone. I became best friends with Filip Kiss, Milan Lalkovič and Kristián Kolčák. To tell the truth, I was very, very sad when it was all over. There is nobody I miss so much as the guys from the national team. However, I hope that we will all get together sometime to play.“

What did this team give you in terms of football or human development?

„Quite a bit. I learned a number of things in terms of both football and life. I got to know new coaches, new European cities, but mostly I got to enjoy football. Certainly it helped me to be named the best young Slovak footballer of 2011 and 2012, which has been the greatest success so far in my career.“

In an interview after the qualifiers, you said that you would never forget your times with the under-21 team. Tell us why.

„Because everything worked like a clockwork and I looked forward to every time we met, the boys, coaches and everyone... Seriously, we were an excellent team and I would love to go through it with them again.“

Only the icing on the cake was missing, which would have been making the finals of the European Championships. Was the Netherlands really beyond the power of the Slovaks to beat?

„Everyone could see we did all that we could, all of us did their best on the field. I remember thinking that never in my life had I ever seen this team play like they did against the Netherlands. We showed the most beautiful football and fighting spirit of all the qualifier matches we played. But the Netherlands are a top class team and we still have a lot to learn in order to win matches against such competitors.“

You waited a long time for the national team to score some goals, and finally they came at very critical times against Kazakhstan...

„I'm glad they helped the team in the most important moments. I wanted to make up for the chance I threw away against Romania because if I had scored, we could have won... But I never concentrated on the goals, but just on the whole team performing and winning together. And I was always sincerely happy when we were successful, no matter who scored.“