Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pavel Nedvěd

Pavel Nedvěd (30 August 1972 in Cheb) is a retired Czech football midfielder. He is one of the most successful Czech players to emerge from the newly formed Czech Republic, winning numerous accolades with Lazio and Juventus, including the last ever Cup Winners' Cup. Widely regarded as one of the finest midfielders of the modern era, he was the recipient of the prestigious Ballon d'Or in 2003, only the second Czech player to receive this honour, and the first since the breakup of Czechoslovakia. Nedved was also the recipient of the 2nd Golden Foot award in 2004.
Nedved was also a key member of the Czech Republic team which reached the final of Euro '96, during which he garnered much international attention. He was also later given the international captaincy. Well known for his energy and tireless runs, as well as his goal scoring ability, Nedved was nicknamed Furia Ceca ("The Czech Fury", an Italian wordplay on the phrase Furia Cieca, meaning "Blind Fury") by Juventus fans.
Nedvěd retired after the 2008–09 season after 19 years as a professional. He played 664 club games, scoring 146 goals, and was capped 91 times for the Czech Republic, scoring 18 times.
Born in the town of Cheb and raised in the nearby town Skalná, Nedvěd began his football career in his native Czechoslovakia. A football fanatic from a young age, Nedved began playing for his home team, Tatran Skalna, in 1977, aged just 5.He then moved on to Ruda Hvozda Cheb in 1985, playing just one season there, before playing for 5 years with Skoda Plzen.In 1990, Nedved arrived in Prague, his nation's capital. Nedved initially signed for Dukla Prague, but played only one season with the outfit before being snapped up by the more prestigious Sparta Prague.With Sparta, Nedved won one Czechoslovak first league and two Gambrinus liga titles, as well as one Czech Republic Football Cup.Nedved's performances at Euro 1996, including a goal in the group stage match against Italy, gained him some notoriety; despite apparently having a verbal agreement with PSV,Nedved made the move from Sparta Prague to Serie A outfit Lazio in 1996.
Nedved played his first game for Lazio against Bologna on 7 September 1996. Nedved rapidly became an integral part of the Lazio side, helping them to the 1997–98 Coppa Italia, and also to the last ever international Cup Winners' Cup 1999. Nedved played a vital role in the campaign and also managed to score the last ever goal of the tournament, which was abolished the next year. In the final against RCD Mallorca, Nedved scored in the 81st minute, securing a 2–1 win for Lazio. Lazio went on to win the Serie A title, as well as two Supercoppa Italianas with Nedved in the team, and also finished runner-up in the 1997-98 UEFA Cup. Nedved played 204 games for the club overall, scoring 54 times.
Following the 2005–06 season, and Juventus's relegation from Serie A due to the Calciopoli scandal, Nedvěd's future as a Juventus player was heavily discussed. After the World Cup, he dispelled those rumors by restating his desire to help Juventus regain promotion to the Serie A. However, the season was somewhat tumultuous for the Czech international. With only a one-year contract, he hinted he might retire from football altogether at the end of the season. He repeated this threat after a 5-game ban stemming from a red card on 1 December. Nevertheless, he remained with the club until the end of the season. Together fellow veterans David Trézéguet and captain Alessandro Del Piero, the three of them scored 47 of the 83 goals Juve scored in Serie B as they won promotion at the first time of asking.
Nedvěd scored Juventus' first league goal of the 2008–09 season in a 1–1 away draw with Fiorentina. He also netted twice against Bologna (2–1) in a match he captained Juve. On 26 February 2009, Nedvěd announced that he would retire at the end of 2008–09 season.[9] On 10 March 2009, Nedved was substituted due to injury in the first half of the UEFA Champions League second round game against Chelsea, which due to his impending retirement, turned out to be his last European game for Juventus (who lost 3–2 on aggregate). He retired at the end of the season, captaining the final match against former team Lazio and set up Vincenzo Iaquinta's goal in a 2–0 victory. 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 Nedvěd did a lap of honour to thank the fans. Later, captain Alessandro Del Piero presented him with a commemorative shirt.

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