I didn’t want to leave anything to chance, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to let such a small insignificant detail as school grades thwart my chances of going to the European championship. I wouldn’t be the first nor the last athlete whose sports life was marred by study results. “Look, listen, you’re falling behind, you’re failing your classes, you’re not going anywhere.” If I heard something like that from the headmaster’s mouth, I’d hit the roof.
Luckily I didn’t, because my studies at a sports-oriented grammar school were also listed in my private mental folder labelled “Motivation”.
I wasn’t able to attend all classes, but I conscientiously copied my classmates’ notes and homework assignments so that I could work on them and re-read them, which was enough for me to get decent grades and avoid all the trouble bad grades would entail.
Motivation, what an interesting concept. If you looked in a dictionary, you’d find that motivation is a reason or reasons to act or behave in a particular way, desire or will to do something, enthusiasm. It energises your body and mind, makes you strive for your goals. And I had so much motivation, and sometimes it was just tiny details. For example, I would cut out photos from sports magazines, pictures of my heroes with happy smiles on their faces, holding trophies high above their heads, or kissing the trophy, crying happy tears. I wanted to feel the same emotions and I knew what I needed to do.
If my friends knew what I was thinking back then, they’d think I was crazy and shake their heads in disbelief. But I wanted to go far, step by step until I reached the very top. These thoughts might have been childish and naïve, but they pushed me forward.
One of them was: “I must excel at school, so that my teachers allow me to go play football any chance I get.”
„Petr Čech? No problem, we trust you. Go and play, and then come back after the last match.”
And so at sixteen years of age, I went to the European championship in Moravia, not knowing it would change my life.
I came back richer than when I left. Blšany, a top-flight club at the time, offered me a contract.
I was just sorry we finished fourth overall, because it meant narrowly missing out on the World Cup that was taking place in New Zealand that November.
P.S. The following chapter coming up next week!
Give him a task, he’ll do it. …
The little lion on your chest… Hold on, you’re almost there! …