Sunday, June 4, 2023

Galasek the modest Czech hero

Tomas Galasek may not be as glamorous a figure as Pavel Nedved, Karel Poborsky and Milan Baros but it is in a large part down to him that the Czech Republic has enjoyed a successful past six years under coach Karel Bruckner.

However, now 35 and having admitted to experiencing the lowest point of his professional career with his Bundesliga outfit Nuremberg relegated, the defensive midfielder is keen to have one last high before he along with Bruckner and giant striker Jan Koller become almost the last of the Euro 2004 semi-finalists first choice team to retire from national service.

This hangs on the likes of the 69-times capped Galasek, captain Tomas Ujfalusi and Marek Jankulovski stepping up to the plate on Sunday against Turkey in their final Euro Group A match where the winner will progess to the last eight.

Galasek, who may well seek to prolong his club career either in The Netherlands or another Bundesliga club, won't only want to extend his international career for himself but also for Bruckner, who recalled him to the national side when he took over in late 2001 after the Czechs had failed to qualify for the 2002 World Cup.

“He (Bruckner) placed a lot of confidence in me,” said Galasek, who had fallen out of favour with Bruckner's predecessor Josef Chovanec.

“I have tried to repay that. He has been very important for me, in giving me another chance, which I really appreciate.”

Galasek, who came through the system at three time champions Banik (which means mine) Ostrava like so many of his team-mates and was long considered by the then communist regime as it is now the leading academy for football, has certainly repaid that confidence in spades to his 68-year-old mentor.

He has been integral to the Czechs reaching three successive major finals for the first time in their history, though, the Euro 2004 semi-final defeat to eventual champions Greece on a silver goal remains the high point for now.

Galasek, who moved to Dutch side Willem II Tilburg from Banik aged 23 and thence to Ajax, proved that he is no mere hardtackling midfielder in the opening victory over Switzerland, as he set up Vaclav Sverkos for the only goal of the game.

“Anyone else but Galasek would have without doubt gone for goal and shot high into the stands,” remarked Sverkos.

“Galasek with his experience didn't get it wrong and instead had the vision to pass to me.”

Bruckner will require the same sort of vision and service from the shy and modest Galasek on Sunday if he and his old guard are to march on to one more battle and not make the Turkish clash their last one together.


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