Former Liverpool, Aston Villa, Sparta Prague, Dukla Prague, Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal players feature, as well as one current Gunner, in the Czech Republic’s all-time squad.
The Czech Republic, formed in 1992 following the separation of Czechoslovakia, has had little success in the World Cup, qualifying only once in 2006, but they have already reached a European Championships final in 1996 and a semi-final in 2004.
The former national team of Czechoslovakia though, the bulk of which was made up of players from what is now the Czech Republic, had even greater success, reaching two World Cup finals and winning the European Championship’s in 1976. Clearly then, the Czech Republic has been a breading ground for some very talented footballers.
To clarify, this squad includes any players who have represented the Czech Republic since 1992 and any players who represented Czechoslovakia between 1901 and 1992 that were born in what is now the Czech Republic. Below is the Czech Republic’s definite 15 man squad, plus their 8 reserves from which you choose which 3 join the initial 15 to create a final 18 man squad.
The Czech Republic has given birth to some incredible shot stoppers over the years, and all three in our initial 15 and 8 reserves could be accurately described as world class. Planicka is probably the pick of the bunch. One of the finest goalkeepers of all-time and a one-club man for Slavia Prague, Planicka was noted for his outstanding reflexes.
He won 73 caps for Czechoslovakia, captaining his country in the 1934 and 1938 World Cup’s, the latter of which the country reached the final, and Planicka was named Best Goalkeeper and as such a member of the All-Star team. He won eight league titles in Czechoslovakia, and one Mitropa Cup, the precursor to the European Cup.
It seems outrageous to leave either Ivo Viktor or Petr Cech out of this squad, but as the latter in the Czech Republic’s all-time leading appearance holder and arguably the greatest goalkeeper of the Premier League era, he just about gets the nod. Cech joined Chelsea at the age of 22, where he won four Premier League titles, one Champions League and ten other trophies, becoming Chelsea’s and the Premier League’s all-time record holder for clean sheets. Cech now plays for Arsenal.
Former Sparta Prague, Ajax and Juventus defender Zdenek Grygera is likely to be the Czech Republic’s first choice right-back for the International Legends World Cup, but the 65 time capped Eredivisie winner will also bring bags of versatility to the squad. An industrious and dependable player, Grygera makes the cut.
A two-time Bundesliga champion with FC Kaiserslautern and a European Championship’s finalist with the Czech Republic, Miroslav Kadlec bridged the gap between the national teams of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic, winning 38 caps for the former and 26 for the latter. Arguably the greatest Czech centre-back of all-time, Kadlec is a nailed on starter for the Legends World Cup.
The man most likely to partner Miroslav Kadlec in the heart of the Czech defence, Jaroslav Burgr was capped 57 times by Czechoslovakia, participating in the 1934 and 938 World Cup’s. A solid and uncompromising centre-back, Burgr spent most of his club days with Sparta Pargue.
The Czech Republic have produced some good left-backs over the years, but none finer than Ladislav Novak. An eight-time national champion with Dukla Prague, Novak won 75 caps for Czechoslovakia between 1952 and 1966, captaining the team in 71 of those appearances. He played in three World Cup’s for his country, losing to Brazil in the final in 1962.
A more recent Czech Republic left-back, Marek Jankulovski will be a capable deputy for Ladislav Novak, as well as being capable of playing further forward on the left wing. A talented offensive full-back renowned for his pace, drive and ability to deliver crosses into the box, Jankulovski spent most of his career in Italy, starring for Napoli, Udinese and AC Milan. The Champions League winner won 77 caps for the Czech Republic, the highlight of which being their Euro 2004 run.
From defence to midfield and we kick-off the Czech Republic’s midfield with a deep-lying destroyer by the name of Svatopluk Pluskal. A fearless defensive midfielder renowned for his aggressive style of play, strong slide tackles and aerial ability, Pluskal won 56 caps for Czechoslovakia, reaching the World Cup final in 1962. One of Europe’s top midfielders, Pluskal also represented ‘Rest of World’ and ‘Europe’ sides which faced England in the 1960’s.
One of the oldest players in the International Legends World Cup, Karel Pesek was born in 1895, and is a rarity in the tournament in that he excelled in two sports, representing Czechoslovakia in both football and ice hockey, competing in both at the 1920 Olympics. A well-rounded midfielder, Pesek could play in defensive or central midfield and won 44 caps for Czechoslovakia, as well as spending 20 years at Sparta Prague.
Widely regarded as the greatest Czech footballer of all-time, Josef Masopust is one of only two Czech footballers to win the Ballon d’Or, and was named the greatest Czech footballer of the last 50 years in 2003. Originally a defensive midfielder, Masopust later played as a central midfielder and occasionally as an attacking midfielder.
A wonderfully complete player, the two-time World XI member had a terrific engine, dribbling skills and all-round technique. Masopust was one of the stars of the 1962 World Cup, making the All-Star team and scoring in the final, but it wasn’t enough for Czechoslovakia, as they were beaten 3-1 by Brazil.
Masopust may be the greatest Czech footballer of all-time, but their greatest in the modern era without doubt is Pavel Nedved. The only other Czech player to win the Ballon d’Or, Nedved beat Thierry Henry, Paolo Maldini and Zinedine Zidane to the award in 2003. The Sparta Prague, Lazio and Juventus great was renowned for his work ethic, vision and technique.
He won league titles with each of Sparta, Lazio and Juve, as well as reaching a Champions League final with the latter of those three. Nedved inspired the Czech Republic to the final of Euro 1996 and the semi-finals of Euro 2004.
The Czechoslovakian national teams all-time leading goal scorer with a very impressive 34 goals from 60 caps, Antonin Puc is without doubt one of the best players the Czech Republic has given birth to. Capable of playing as a left winger or as a centre-forward, Puc was an outstanding technician, one of the best dribblers of his day and a clinical goal scorer. He scored Czechoslovakia’s only goal in the 1934 World Cup final against Italy.
Deployed as an attacking midfielder or withdrawn forward more often than he was played as an out-and-out centre-forward, Oldrich Nejedly is still the most prolific player in the Czech Republic’s initial 15. He scored 162 goals in 187 games for Sparta Prague and 29 goals from 44 caps for Czechoslovakia, winning the Golden Boot at the 1934 World Cup.
A more familiar face for those of you under the age of 90, Jan Koller was a giant of a man, standing at over 6″7′, and has to be considered as a giant of Czech football, given that he is the Czech Republic’s all-time leading goal scorer with 55 goals from 91 caps. Koller tasted glory with Sparta Prague, Anderlecht and Borussia Dortmund, winning the Bundesliga in 2002. He scored a career total 232 goals in 547 games.
The only other currently active player in the Czech Republic’s initial 15, along with Petr Cech, Milan Baros is the final player who will definitely be in the Czech squad for the tournament. The Czech Republic’s second highest goal scorer of all-time, Baros won the Golden Boot at Euro 2004, whilst playing for Liverpool, and he joined Aston Villa a year later.
Baros was never able to set the Premier League alight, but he had much success in Turkey, the Czech Republic and on the international scene. Perhaps the highlight of Baros’ career came with Liverpool, as he was a part of the Reds team that came back from 3-0 down against AC Milan. Baros played the first 85 minutes of the match.
That’s it for the Czech Republic’s definite 15, now it’s over to you to pick which three reserve players get the nod and join the likes of Nedved and Masopust in the countries final 18. The eight reserve players to choose from are as follows:
1. Ivo Victor – Former Dukla Prague goalkeeper – 63 caps
2. Tomas Ujfalusi – Former Hamburg, Fiorentina & Atletico Madrid defender – 78 caps
3. Patrik Berger – Former Slavia Prague, Dortmund, Liverpool, Villa & Portsmouth midfielder – 42 caps
4. Tomas Rosicky – Former Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal & current Sparta Prague midfielder – 105 caps*
5. Antonin Panenka – Former Bohemians & Rapid Wien midfielder – 59 caps
6. Karel Poborsky – Former Manchester United, Benfica & Sparta Prague winger – 118 caps
7. Zdenek Nehoda – Former Dukla Prague & Grenoble forward – 91 caps
8. Tomas Skuhravy – Former Sparta Prague & Genoa forward – 43 caps