With the lion on his chest! 15 years since the premiere
It has been 15 years since Petr first appeared in the first qualification match for the Czech national team. It was in Chisinau, Moldova. Can anyone even remember? „I certainly,“ the record holder in number of matches for national team is smiling. We asked Petr to choose his top 10 matches for the national team. He listed them chronologically and always highlighted them with an exclamation mark.
When we came to Moldova, it was raining. Actually it was pouring. And it had not stopped until the match started. The ground was terrible, mud and cold. I, the goalkeeper of Rennes, was playing my first qualification match. On about 30 minutes the forward Rogacov was running towards me. Alone. If he had scored, it would have been bad for us. Luckily I run out of the gate and after break we decided the match. The new era in the national team could start even though I froze to the bone. (12th October 2002)
Going to Euro!
All four European qualifiers were finished by our advancing but that time my emotions were the most intensive. Nedvěd, Koller, Šmicer, Poborský, Galásek, coach Brückner... What a team! The match against Netherlands (3-1), the team of top quality, was great, the full house was amused, we won the group and secured Portugal in advance. (10th September 2003)
The most fantastic match I have ever played for the national team. At Euro 2004, among colourful seats in Aveiro, we were losing 2-0 on 20 minutes. The coach Brückner immediately changed the line-up but if I had not saved Heitinga´s shot when the score was 1-2, it could have been the end of the match. The score luckily changed, both teams had plenty of chances and it could finish 6-6. I additionally tell myself: Thanks God for that magic day! We won and the whole Euro should have finished by the gold medal if only the Greek Dellas did not score a fortuitous goal in the semi-final extra time. (19th June 2004)
Going through play-off!
We qualified to the World Cup. For the first and last time in the Czech history. We did not concede any goal against Norway. Pavel Nedvěd returned to the team and everything got new, positive vibes. Carew or Iversen did not score against me in the rematch. On the contrary, when Tomáš Rosický scored an excellent goal I knew we were there! An amazing feeling, amazing celebration – when I see the recording I feel the same emotions again. (16th November 2005)
Close to shame!
The second match at the World Cup. We believed we would beat Ghana, especially after our victory over the USA in the first match. However, we learned a tough lesson. The loss 0-2 was merciful. I have never faced to so many opponent´s chances as there in Cologne. In Italy they wrote that we comitted a football hara-kiri but we simply failed. Milan Baroš and Jan Koller could not play because of their injuries, the line-up was glued together, Tomáš Ujfaluši was shown a red card on 60 minutes. It could be a huge shame. Finally we were edged out by Italy who won the whole World Cup. It was a strong experience but too bitter. (17th June 2006)
The first match of the Euro 2008. An event for the Czech football. Huge honour, huge expectations, huge importance. In Basel against the home Switzerland. Although the trainings for Euro did not catch me in ideal temper. With Chelsea we lost the Champions League finals on penalties in Moscow. Nevertheless, the zero and the victory 1-0 against Switzerland were a plaster for the disappointment. (7th June 2008)
Unfortunately, even those matches belong to life. The loss 2-3 against Turkey and a sad end at Euro. Many people are still glad to remind me of the situation how the crossed ball from the right wing jumped out of my hands and Nihat comfortably equalized the score to 2-2. Afterwards there was a chaos, we conceded another goal and from clear quarterfinals it was a sudden end. We packed our stuff in spite of the fact our team was very strong and had the potential to go far. (15th June 2008)
Batman in action!
Hardly anybody believed we could qualify to Euro 2012 in Poland. The fans wrote us off, the coach Bílek was under extreme pressure, Milan Baroš was booed off the pitch. We still made it and saw Montenegro off. I played in the helmet and also with the face mask because of my broken nose. I looked like Batman. In a hot rematch in Podgorica I confessed I touched the ball, I would never think of concealing it. We went on and for me it was a great satisfaction because we made the fight mainly for ourselves. Maybe also because of that we made so called „Drulák´s circle“ at the airport where we returned it to our biggest critic. (15th November 2011)
Against the champions!
The premiere at our last Euro. Against Spain. Against Iniesta, David Silva, Sergio Ramos… I have to say that despite the close defeat I enjoyed the match. Out of all chances only Piqué scored a goal against me a few minutes before the end. What a pity. (13th June 2016)
Turkey again. And a loss again that did not have to happen. My 124th match for the national team. I was not a hundred per cent sure but after the match when I was standing in front of the sad fans with Czech flags, someting indicated me it was the last time and I would never wear the national team jersey again. I will keep the feeling until the end. It is a shame that the memory for the last match was not happy but I still have to say: It was worth it! And thank you! (21st June 2016)
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