The Škoda Plzeň kids team was at the bottom of the table, we couldn’t compete with the best sides. So I went into the goal because that was the plan. My first time in the goal in an actual competitive match. It was a sunny Saturday, we were playing at the stadium in Luční where the older boys usually played their league games. Warm, springtime weather, freshly mowed grass. I wasn’t used to that, I did most of my goalkeeping on slag, so my knees were skinned and my body was coal black with dirt.
Even though I knew I’d have a lot of work, I didn’t even have time to get nervous. Or maybe it was because of it?
Our opponent was relentless, created countless chances, we only lost 1-3. On the one hand, it was a fantastic result, but I was consumed with remorse: “What a shitty day, my first game as goalkeeper and we lose.”
Then coach Herrmann came into the dressing room, waited until we settled down a bit, and then took me by surprise. “Gentlemen, this was the first time in a year when your goalkeeper had your back, and you couldn’t even take advantage of that?” he said in a very stern voice.
My mood changed immediately, I even felt a little bit proud. All eyes turned to the little boy in the corner who was just taking of his sweaty shirt.
I liked that – who wouldn’t like some praise…
And on Monday I was playing again, this time in the midfield, and it all got so tangled. That day, I almost ruined my future career.
We were playing at home against our city rival, SK Plzeň. They were the weaker team and I was doing really well on the pitch. We were up by four goals, a comfortable lead, and I scored two of those. Midway through the second half time our opponent was awarded a corner, the ball got deflected into our box and I ran. I packed it in and ran. Coach Sequens, who was also acting as the referee, shouted at me: “Petr, pack it in and go all the way to the goal!”
I obeyed, I jinked past two guys, dodged the last centre back and then it was only me against their goalie. Unfortunately, as I sprinted forward, the ball jumped to the side and the goalie jumped under my feet.
At the last second I thought: “Try a toe-poke, there’s space under his body.” I saw myself scoring a third goal, throwing my arms in the air in celebration, jumping up and down. A hat-trick! How wonderful would that be!
But it wasn’t.
I poked the ball with my left foot and right then the goalie fell on my foot. My body wanted to run on, but it couldn’t. I fell sideways and my leg turned to the side.
Crunch! It was as if a dry twig snapped in the woods. They said the sound was heard all the way on the other side of the pitch.
My leg broke right above the ankle.
It hurt like hell, but I still wanted to get the ball into the net. It was rolling on the grass beside me. All I had to do was get up and kick it. But how do you do that when your heart wants to but your body doesn’t?
It was then that I noticed how unnaturally my foot is hanging below my ankle.
P.S. Next week - Chapter 23