Coming home from Bremen, I realised one thing. I don’t want to do this ever again. Ever! I might not have the experience, but I’m not a test pilot or some kind of guinea pig. Either you show serious interest and sign me, or we’re done. Try-outs? Tests? No thanks. I don’t have the time.
There are a million ways to get to know a player. You can come and attend games, you can get tapes with videos. I’m not going to lose time over travelling somewhere just to try to show someone that I’m worth it. However, it was great motivation for me. It was good to see how things work on a higher level.
Who would have thought that within two months I’d be signed by Sparta?
After serving the three-match ban I was back in the goal. We played in Ostrava and got a 1-1 draw. I was happy the coaches didn’t repudiate me. “Why would we? It was just one mistake,” they told me.
I finished the autumn part of the season in the starting XI, and we placed eleventh in the league table, which wasn’t exactly hitting the jackpot, but it wasn’t bad either. Fans weren’t shouting abuse at me, after the fateful match against Bohemians there was no more criticism. Nineteen goals conceded in 16 league rounds was a good score, only five teams had better defence than that.
I felt I was on a roll. So getting a driving license should be a piece of cake, right? I finally had the time to take the driving lessons, which I did in every spare moment. The first time the instructor took me to half-finished roads around Borská pole, near the Plzeň jail. Nowadays there’s a modern shopping centre there, and factories, you wouldn’t recognise the place anymore. Sitting behind the wheel, I felt that driving is easy. Anybody can do it. Clutch, brake, accelerate, look at the road signs, stop at the red light. I managed all the test drives, but the written exam was another story. I’m sitting at the desk, concentrating, picking answers from multiple choices, never doubting myself, when suddenly I hear: “Hey, you know the answer to number fourteen? Who has right of way at a roundabout?”
It threw me off. I don’t like being disturbed. But I was so sure I’d pass the test that I started giving secret advice to the guys around me. It was a mistake, because I forgot about the time, didn’t manage to read all my questions in time and made too many mistakes. I tried to help others, handed my own paper in too late and suffered the consequences.
I had to take the exam again!
I remember one of the flops as if it happened just yesterday. I knew what the answer to the question I just read was, my hand was hovering over the correct letter, when I heard a desperate voice from behind me: “Help! What’s the answer to number twenty?”
“C, obviously,” I replied, and the moment I said it, the tip of my pen slipped, and I ticked C on a completely different answer on my sheet.
When I saw the results, I was furious. I hate losing. I didn’t want to accept that I’d have to take the exam again.
Fortunately, the second time I took it I made no mistakes.
And then in January 2001 I got my driving licence.
P.S. The following chapter coming up next week!
There’s no harm in trying. Or is there? …
My pointless trip to Strahov. …