It didn’t take long and I was indeed directing Béda Vrabec. For the first time ever.
We were returning from a training camp in Germany, tired as oxen after a full day’s work in the fields. Barely alive, all we wanted to do was go to bed. But there was one more stop to make, a game against Most in preparation for the league.
My legs were shaking with exhaustion, I couldn’t even keep standing, much less run. And then came a moment when the determined opponent decided to attack from the right, with a vicious pass that went over our defenders’ heads. Béda was playing centre-back and underestimated the situation a little bit. I saw it well and knew exactly where the mistake was, because I had the best view from the goal-line. But I didn’t dare shout at Béda Vrabec. Mr Vrabec, who won six league titles with Sparta and I would cheer on him in front of the TV? No way.
I just shot him an innocent look, I felt too embarrassed to say anything. But his reaction shocked me, I can still hear his words.
He was still trying to catch his breath, but he didn’t wait: “Hey, dude, if you’re afraid to shout at me, you can just pack your things and go home!”
He gave me a dressing-down like no other. Nobody has ever scolded me like that, or that’s how it felt. I was embarrassed, but at the same time I felt completely awake, as if we were back at Žinkovy and it was him making the rounds to wake people up, hammering his fist on my door: “Wake up, Petr! Time to get up!”
And wake up I did. I understood that on the pitch, I am the master, and I can shout at anyone from the goal-line if I see a mistake being made.
Not that I can – I MUST!
When I see someone making a mistake, I shout, give advice, help my teammates solve the problem. Even if it means shouting orders at Béda Vrabec himself.
Béda Vrabec was a great motivation for us youngsters. Just watching him during practice one learned a lot. You could see the experience, the maturity emanating from his actions. He wasn’t stuck-up; he behaved more like a friend and protector. And so did Günter Bittengel.
What, you don’t know who Günter Bittengel is? I’ll tell you more about him (and not only him) in the next chapter.
This work is for the newbies. You must do it, even if you don’t like it. …
My beginnings with coach Sedláček. …