Six of the Best Czech Footballers to Grace the Footballing World
It is fair to say that the Czech Republic national football team is not as good as what they used to be, but they still have a habit of providing the footballing world with some quality players. Below we are going to take a look at six of the best Czech footballers that football fans all over the world have had the pleasure of watching.
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Back in 1976, not many people outside of the Czech Republic had heard of him, but in a penalty shootout in the European Championship final, he audaciously decided to coolly chip the ball over West Germany’s Sepp Maier to give his nation a shock win. Anyone who now copies this technique when taking a penalty is said to be doing a Panenka. In 1980, Panenka was named Czechoslovakia’s Player of the Year and he was entered into the UEFA Hall of Fame back in 2014. At the time of writing, he is the chairman of Bohemians Praha, which is a club that he made 230 appearances for and scored 63 goals.
Berger spent seven years at Anfield and can claim to be one of the best Czech players to ever grace the Premier League. He was a strong and fast attacking midfielder, who was also able to play on the wing. He knew how to use his head and caused opposing teams plenty of problems from set-pieces. He scored in the Euro 96 final against Germany, and it was his performances throughout the tournament that convinced Liverpool to shell out £3.25 million (a lot of money back then) for him after the tournament. Liverpool had a great team at the end of the 90s with the likes of Berger, Steve McManaman, and Robbie Fowler, but Berger did not taste success with them until the 2000/2001 season where they picked up the FA Cup, League Cup, and the UEFA Cup. During his time at Anfield, he played 195 matches and scored 35 goals – he could have had more, but he spent plenty of time out due to recurring injuries.
The Czech defender spent most of his football career in Serie A playing for Napoli, Udinese, and Milan. Although full-back was his preferred position, he had no issues playing as a wing-back or winger, and he was known for his ability to put in accurate crosses. He also knew where the goal was as he chipped in with 42 of them over his career. His biggest achievement in club football was helping Milan win the Champions League in 2007 and the Serie A in 2011. When it comes to international football, he was capped 77 times for his nation and played for them at the 2000 Olympics, three European Championships, and one World Cup. In 2007 he was voted as Czech Footballer of the Year.
We cannot have an article about great Czech footballers without including Petr Cech on it as he is considered by many to be one of the best keepers of his generation. He holds several prestigious goalkeeping records such as reaching 100 Premier League clean sheets in the fewest appearances (180), the highest number of clean sheets in one Premier League season (24), and the cleanest sheets in the history of the Premier League (102). Cech signed for Chelsea in 2004 for a fee of £7 million and in his 10 years at Stamford Bridge he won the Premier League four times, the FA Cup four times, the FA Cup three times, the Champions League once, and the Europa League once. With 124 caps, he is his country’s most capped player, and he represented his nation’s four European Championships (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016) and one World Cup (2006).
At 6 foot 7 inches, he was the Czech’s equivalent to England’s Peter Crouch. In another similarity to Crouch, Koller also played for more teams than you can count on one hand. He had stints at Anderlecht, Lokeren, Monaco, Cannes, FC Nurnberg, Borussia Dortmund, Sparta Prague, and Krylia Sovetov Samara. The highlight of the big man’s career was his five-year spell with Dortmund, where he scored 73 goals in 167 matches. Overall, he scored 199 career goals in 483 games, and he is still the top scorer for his country with 55 goals.
Nedved, it is safe to say, is probably one of the most famous Czech footballers of the modern era and he is considered to be a legend in Turin due to the stellar career that he had with Juventus. In 1996 he was part of the Czech team that made it to the final of Euro 96, and his performances during the tournament led Lazio to buy his services for a mere €1.2 million. Four years later he helped Lazio, under Sven-Goran Eriksson, to Serie A glory by a solitary point. It was no surprise to anyone when Juventus signed him €38.7 million in 2001. He helped Juventus to the Serie A title for the next two seasons and stuck with them even when they were relegated due to the part the club played in a match-fixing scandal. They won Serie B comfortably and he went on to play for Juventus for two more seasons before retiring from the game. He made 247 appearances for Juventus and scored 51 goals. He is now the club’s vice president.