By Simona Lebánková
When it comes to football legends, Vladimir Šmicer is definitely one of them. He was the driving force for Czech Republic and will be always related with 2005 final of the Champions League in Istanbul where he won with Liverpool against AC Milan on penalties. What was he thinking before his last kick for Liverpool and what´s his opinion about Czech football? Read more in our exclusive interview with Vladimir Šmicer.
How would you comment today's match?
Of course I am happy with the result, because we won. However I think we could see that it was a match of two teams that are strong. At the end we scored one more goal, but it could have been a tie. I am glad that it went well with no crazy fouls. It was an important game as every team wants to be promoted to a higher division, then the teams are more equal. But it was a good quality football and a lot of people came to watch, so the atmosphere was great.
Have you heard about Prague Raptors?
The first time I noticed Raptors was when I found out which teams would be in our league. I was thinking who are Raptors, because I never heard about this team before. Then Dean (Dean Da Lança is our left back), who used to play for Chabry, texted me and told me that he is part of this international team and it was Prague Raptors. I though it was a great idea that all these players from so many different countries created one team. I was excited about this match, hoping that I will play for a little bit too, but I was away for more than a one month and came back this Friday. Usually I train a bit, go to the gym or for run, but it would be risky for me without any training today, so I left it to the young ones.
How did you get to Chabry?
I bought a house here in 1996, when I was leaving Slavia for Lens and since then I live here. Of course we live here “full time” since 2007 when I came from Bordeaux. When I finished my career in Slavia, I started playing for Chabry and for the past 4 years I am the chairman of the club, which also allows me to play for team A or B. But I haven´t played for A team for more than year. When I play for B team, I usually play only about 20 minutes, just so people can see I am still able to kick the ball. (laugh)
What is your opinion about Czech football and our national team?
With the national team it's a bit harder for us. We don´t have a wide base of talented players now and in some of the key positions, we are missing “leaders”, to be honest. We have great players, but we need some player that will grow into a leader. We always used to have them - Pavel Nedvěd, Karel Poborský, Tomáš Rosický, Jan Koller. They were playing around the world in top clubs and as a team we used to be really confident. But I don´t see it all in black as some of the people. It´s maybe not our time now, we are not as strong in football, but it doesn't mean that we should stop rooting for our national team. And when it comes to Czech football - we are not doing a good job. There is obviously something we are doing wrong.
What is the difference between football now and 20 years ago?
I think it's faster than it was and the physical abilities of the players are even better. But all the sports are faster than they used to be. I remember when we used to watch football matches from 60's and 70's and we though that it was slow. And now I think the same about football 20 years ago and now, only the difference is not as big. Football players care much more about their diet, taking care of their bodies. They are like machines and who desire to have a great football career really works hard every day. That´s why we are behind, because we didn't follow. All the coaches in the Czech Republic here say that they don´t play for results, but 90% of them do. Unfortunately with young players, we shouldn't care about results, but about developing the players and working on their skills.
If you could choose 3 professional players to your team, who would you choose?
I would take Messi, probably Neymar too. Even if I don't like Neymar's falling on the ground, but I like to watch him play and I think he's a great player. And the last one would be Mbappe, he is exceptional. Yeah, these three. I would definitely play with them.
When it comes to year 2005 - how was it to play your last match for Liverpool and win Champions League?
I knew it was my last big match and I was hoping I will play at least for a few minutes. I'd already played in a European Championship final with the Czech National Team in 1996, but the opportunity to play in this kind of final is very rare. The only “bigger” game is probably final of the World Cup. In final with AC Milan losing 3-0 in half time we weren´t thinking we could win. But then in second half Steven Gerrard scored, then I scored from 25 metres, which was surprising, because it wasn't my kind of scoring. And then I also scored in penalties, so it was happy end.
How were you feeling before the penalty?
I felt a huge pressure. I knew that the last memory I was going to leave the club of me had to be a good one. Otherwise I could never come back. I mean - they would always remember me like the one who didn't score his last goal and Liverpool lost in final of the Champions League. I was pretty nervous.
Is there a goal you scored and you are proud of?
It was in 1993 against Sparta. I went around the defender and goalkeeper, into the empty goal from a difficult angle. That goal is my favourite one.
You can see the goal here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpP6yqzhV8A
I'm guessing that the biggest joker in Czech National Team was Pavel Horvath, but how about Liverpool?
(laughing) Definitely, the biggest joker was Horvath. In Liverpool Jamie Carragher liked to joke around, but there's probably no one like Pavel Horvath. He was a master in it, especially when someone new came.
Thank you so much, it was a pleasure to meet you!
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