Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

David Schiavone On March - 31 - 2010

Legend of Calcio: Pavel Nedved

Legend of Calcio: Pavel NedvedThere have been many great players to grace Serie A in recent times, but one of the most outstanding is Czech midfielder Pavel Nedved. A legend at Juventus after initially being brought to the peninsula by Lazio, he won Scudetti, Coppa Italia and numerous European honours, in addition to the plentiful array of personal accolades he collected during his nineteen year career.

He started his career with Dukla Prague in his home nation and made his debut at the age of 19 and after a number of impressive performances he was picked up by city rivals Sparta Prague, the most successful club in the Czech Republic.

After spending three years with Sparta, winning the Czechoslovak League in his first year then after the split of Czechoslovakia, adding the Czech Gambrinus Liga on a couple of occasions along with the Czech Cup. It was Nedved who propelled the club to these three back-to-back titles with consistent and influential performances.

The form he showed with Sparta Prague caught the attention of the national team boss Dušan Uhrin and in June 1994 he debuted in a 3-1 victory over Rep. of Ireland. Consequently, it was the form he showed for the national side that brought him to worldwide attention especially in UEFA Euro ’96, where he was part of the Czech Republic side that reached the final, only to be beaten by Germany as Oliver Bierhoff scored the first ever golden goal in football.

Nedved did have an agreement to join PSV Eindhoven 1996 but after these excellent performances Lazio came calling. Awash with money thanks to Sergio Cragnotti, Lazio were keen on buying the worlds best players and Nedved was of course one of this elite band.

Lazio then embarked on one of the most successful periods in the clubs history with Nedved at the heart, he won his first competition with the Biancocelesti during his second season with the club – a 3-2 victory over AC Milan in the 1998 Coppa Italia Final.

Further success was to come for Nedved and Lazio in the Cup Winners’ Cup during the 1998/99 season. This was the final year of the competition before it was to be disbanded in favour of an expanded Champions League and UEFA Cup. Lazio reached the final against Real Mallorca and Pavel Nedved scored the last ever goal in the competition as Lazio went on to win 2-1.

He added another Coppa Italia a year later but the crowning glory of his Lazio career has to be the Scudetto win in 1999/2000. This was his sides holy grail having only won the title once before in their history. In addition, Nedved won the Italian Super Cup twice and helped defeat Manchester United in 1999 to win the European Super Cup.

The Scudetto triumph under Sven Goran Eriksson was to be the high point of a glittering Lazio career because Cragnotti had essentially run the club into the ground and with the vast pools of money drying up, the Aquile were forced to sell players.

Juventus were to come calling in 2001 after Zinedine Zidane moved to Real Madrid, Juve were therefore looking for a playmaker and Nedved was the perfect fit. A transfer fee of €41 million was agreed between the two clubs and Nedved went on to become an integral part of a very successful Juventus side.

He won Scudetto with Juve in 2001/02, 2002/03, 2004/05, and 2005/06 (negating the Calciopoli scandal).

Nedved was instrumental in leading Juventus into the 2003 Champions League final against AC Milan, but was forced to sit out the final because of accumulation of yellow cards, after being booked in the semi-final for tackling Real Madrid midfielder Steve McManaman.

It is said if Nedved played in this final, a drab nil-nil draw, he could and would have been the difference between the two sides, as Milan only won on penalties and Nedved was instrumental in Juve’s run to the final. In the Semi-Final he tormented the Real Madrid backline and scored the goal that took Juventus to the final.

At the end of the year, he won the Ballon D’Or, as well as the Serie A Footballer and Foreign Footballer of the Year awards.

When Juventus were relegated as a result of the Calciopoli scandal in 2006 speculation was rife about the future of Nedved, but as a Bianconeri symbol he stayed loyal to the club. Juventus bounced back and Nedved was an integral part of the Serie B winning side.

In his final season with Juve he wracked up 44 games in all competitions, at the age of 36 this was a great achievement. After putting off his retirement for a year he finally retired at the end of the 2009 season, captaining Juventus in their final match against former team Lazio. He was substituted before the final whistle and was given a standing ovation by both sets of supporters. After the match ended, the other Juventus players formed a guard of honour and Nedved did a lap of honour to thank the fans. Later, club-captain Alessandro Del Piero presented him with a commemorative shirt.

Known for his combative style, he was given the nickname Furia Ceca – The Czech Fury. His technique was exemplary, capable of using both feet, he was a nightmare for defenders, pin-point crosses reigned in from his right and left foot. He also possessed a thunderous shot and was a set-piece specialist.

Pace, power and vision kept him at the top of world football for many years and he is undoubtedly one of the greatest players of the modern game.

One Response so far.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Player of the decade in the Serie A.

    5 scudettos, 3 Supercoppa, 1 Coppa Italia. A Ballon D'or.

    Outstanding player

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