The day after stepping in as goalkeeper I arrived at Luční street, where the Plzeň kids had their training sessions. You can reach the compound by crossing a footbridge under which the two rivers Mže and Radbuza meet. It’s a four-minute walk from the main stadium at Štruncovy sady.
We trained at the very back, on the last pitch of the compound. Nowadays, the grounds at Luční are completely different: modern, beautiful, multi-purpose. But back then, we had to make do with a narrow noodle of a pitch, twenty metres wide and seventy metres long.
As usual, I went to join the midfielders, and we were about to start the warm-up game, when I hear Mr Hrubý, who was in charge of junior goalkeepers at the Plzeň base: “Hey, Čechíno, what do you think you’re doing? You don’t belong there! From now on, you’re with us.”
What? Me and the goalkeepers?
I hid my astonishment, turned on my heel and went to join the group of young goalies.
But then our main coach Mr Sequens materialized at the pitch, shouting. “Čech! What are you doing? You’re not supposed to be there.”
I stiffened, thinking I might have done something wrong. But no, fortunately it was just the coaches trying to figure out what to do about me.
“Did you see him yesterday, against the fifth-graders? I can’t let this guy go,” Mr Hrubý said. “Petr, go with the goalies, chop chop!”
However, it was Mr Sequens who had the final word. “He isn’t bad in the midfield either, and you have enough goalkeepers as it is. But if you think so… I’ll compromise.”
P.S. Next week - Chapter 19