Let’s continue with our Serie A Legends series and remember the Czech midfielder who spent 13 seasons in Italian football – Pavel Nedved.
Pavel Nedved was born on 30 August 1972 in Cheb, a small town in Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic). He played in the youth sides of several football clubs as a kid, before making his professional debut at Dukla Prague in October 1991.
Nedved emerged as one of the most talented players in his native country in his debut season and was snapped up by Sparta Prague – the best Czechoslovak club at the time, in the summer of 1992.
Nedved i Smicer po finale EURO 1996. pic.twitter.com/IeYsKfo0TA
— Damian Bednarz (@d_bednarz) June 15, 2016
He won the Czechoslovak First League in his first season at Sparta. The league was succeeded at the end of the season by the Czech First League and the Slovak Super Liga, due to the dissolution of Czechoslovakia.
Sparta Prague and Pavel Nedved won the first-ever edition of the Czech First League in 1993 and managed to defend the crown successfully in the following season.
His breakthrough season came in 1995-96, even though Sparta missed out on the domestic crown, as their neighbors Slavia Prague became the new champions of the Czech Republic.
Pavel Nedved, however, enjoyed an amazing campaign at individual level scoring 19 goals for his club across all competition. He earned his place in the Czech national team which traveled to England for the UEFA Euro 1996.
The midfielder scored his first senior international goal in the Group C game against Italy and was named man of the match in the semi-final against France as the Czech Republic advanced to the UEFA Euro 1996 Final, where they lost 2-1 to Germany after Oliver Bierhoff’s extra-time golden goal.
He impressed several European giants with his performance at the Euro, but Lazio was the team to secure his signature during the summer of 1996.
Pavel Nedved scores the winning goal for Lazio against Real Mallorca in the 1999 Cup Winners’ Cup final. pic.twitter.com/35XZX6XMsc
— hammoudakhil (@inquietdouleur) March 22, 2018
Nedved was an agile and technically gifted complete midfielder who was known for his speed, dribbling ability and vision. His primary position was wide left, but the Czech was capable of playing anywhere in midfield, or even as a second striker behind the No. 9 forward.
Italian football fans nicknamed him “The Czech Fury” because of his ability to easily get past defenders, using his quick feet and excellent ball control.
He spent five years at Lazio, winning the Serie A in 2000, two Coppa Italia trophies and the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1999 as he scored the decisive goal against Mallorca in the Final.
Nedved moved to Juventus in July 2001 for a transfer fee of €41 million, as a replacement for Zinedine Zidane, who just left the club to join Real Madrid’s Galacticos.
Many skeptics believed was too high despite Nedved’s rising stock and reputation throughout Europe. Not only did he prove those doubters wrong, but he paid the club back every penny they spent to lure him away from the Biancocelesti.
In 2003, two years after his move to Turin, Nedved was the Serie A Footballer of the Year, Serie A Foreigner of the Year and Ballon d’Or winner.
He scored 14 goals in all competitions during the 2002-03 season, guiding the Old Lady to a back-to-back Scudetto glory and the Champions League Final, where they lost to AC Milan after the penalty shootout.
Happy 43rd birthday to Pavel Nedvěd.
3 Serie A titles
2 Coppa Italia
1 Ballon d'Or (2003)
1 haircut like no other pic.twitter.com/A36HiWr6ER
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 30, 2015
Pavel Nedved and Juventus were relegated to Serie B in the wake of the Caciopoli scandal in 2006. Despite have an offer from Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United, Nedved decided to stay faithful to the Bianconeri and helped the club to get back in top-flight Italian football in the following campaign.
The Czech Fury retired from professional football in August 2009. He spent eight seasons at Juve, becoming the longest-serving foreign player of the club.
Since 2010 he sat in the Board of Directors of Juventus and in 2015 he has been appointed Vice Chairman.