Just before the World Cup in Russia kicked off, a Czech Republic legend waved goodbye to the beautiful game. Tomas Rosicky featured 105 times for his country over a sixteen-year period, featuring in Euro 2000, Euro 2004, the 2006 World Cup, Euro 2012 and Euro 2016. Rosicky captained his national side as well as plying his trade for boyhood club Sparta Prague, Borussia Dortmund and most famously Arsenal. Rosicky holds the unlikely record of being both the oldest and youngest player to represent the Czech Republic at the European Championships at the ages of 35 and 19 respectively. You won’t find many people willing to bet with 888 sport on that stat being beaten any time soon.
With injury woes marring his last few seasons at Arsenal, it was mutually agreed that he would leave the club when his contract runs out in 2016 after ten years in North London. After receiving a guard of honour and making a teary appearance on the touchline at Arsenal’s last game of the season against Aston Villa, the Little Mozart decided to return home. In August 2016 Rosicky announced he was signing for Sparta Prague and in September 2017, after further injury troubles, he scored a match-winning goal. It was these constant injury worries that forced him to announce his retirement at the age of 37, but the Czech people wanted to say goodbye properly.
Rosicky and his team organised a farewell match called Czech XI vs World XI in which Rosicky called upon friends and family to help him celebrate an illustrious career. Former and current footballing stars such as Cesc Fabregas, Petr Cech, Robin Van Persie and Jens Lehmann came out to help their friend and former colleague to end a nineteen-year playing career with aplomb. It was to be Jens Lehmann who, as usual, was the villain of the piece saving a penalty from Rosicky himself before the retake flew in. Rosicky emphatically celebrated in front of Lehmann as players and fans alike both laughed. The game was to end 5-2 with the Czech XI coming out on top, one goal of course scored by Rosicky himself but there was also a fitting tribute as the last goal of the day was scored by his son.
As the clock ticked down, the 37-year-old ran to the bench and picked up his son. Tomas Rosicky carried his young son towards Jens Lehmann’s goal, defenders intentionally sliding out of the way, Rosicky placed his son on his feet and rolled the ball back to him in front of goal. It took a few attempts, but finally Rosicky junior poked the ball beyond Lehmann who was less charitable earlier in the game against Rosicky senior, diving to push his penalty aside.
It was a lovely gesture and it pretty much summed up what Tomas Rosicky was all about on the pitch. A generous flair player who works hard and supported his teammates on the pitch.
Speaking to the official Arsenal website after the match a teary-eyed Tomas Rosicky said: it’s very emotional. It was great. I have to say, that I could share this moment with all the guys who came to play in the game and be here with me, so I have to say thank you to everyone who came here and made this occasion very special.”