Pavel Nedved, these two words are synonymous with hard work and discipline, two things that the Czech had in abundance and all the Juventus fans appreciated. The left footed attacking midfielder began his career at the top Prague clubs Dukla Prague and Sparta Prague, but this Czech Fury was always destined for greater things, and so he began his Italian adventure in 1996 with Roman club Lazio.
He spent five years at Lazio where he would hone his skills and helped the club win the Scudetto in 2000, along with other accolades throughout his time in the capital. His move to Juventus in 2001 caused an uproar in Rome, as he had firmly established himself as a special player, his ability to run non-stop, his technical skills and his keen eye for goal was considered too valuable to let go, but let go they must as The Turin Giants had just sold Zinedine Zidane to Real Madrid and needed a player with similar qualities to replace him, and he fitted the bill.
The €41m that took him away from Lazio was considered as money well spent, as the Turin outfit barely missed the Frenchman. He aided Marcello Lippi to consecutive Scudetti and was instrumental in Juve 2003 Champions League adventure. He had missed out on the final due to an accumulation of yellow cards, he was sorely missed as the Old Lady lost to Milan on penalties.
His importance to the game did not go unnoticed as he won the Balon d’Or in 2003, he was only the second Czech to win this prestigious award.
Nedved was a player who persevered, when others would give up, he would carry on and create a shooting opportunity and it was this attitude to his game that helped to provide an extra dimension to his game. As well as having excellent technique especially with his free-kicks and having a monstrous shot from long range, he was excellent at reading the game, and his goals and assists are a testament to this. He would so often be seen running from his own half, getting away from and stepping over challenges and then creating and executing a perfect shooting opportunity. This can be considered as a vital attribute for any player to posses, but especially an attacking midfielder/winger.
Nedved possessed the perfect mix of power and technique and he was never “wild” or “outrageous” in his game, he would play with perfect precision that allowed him to be able to execute some outstanding moves like the chip against Ajax in The Champions League.
Pavel possessed the ability to play across the midfield, thus showing his versatility and his willingness to do everything in his power to help the team. After a stint in Serie B, Juve were back in the top- flight ready to compete at the highest level. This was in no small part achievable by this man’s hard work and determined nature, and furthermore cemented his name as a Juventus Great.
But all good things come to an end, and the constant knocks took its toll, and he retired at the end of the 2008-09 season. He decided to hang his boots up at the end of the 2008-09 season to spend more time with his family. Calcio lost a great warrior but they gained a phenomenal example for future generations to follow.
Name – Pavel Nedved
Age – 38 (30/08/1972)
Position – Attacking Midfielder
Clubs (Appearances/Goals)– Dukla Prague 19/3 Sparta Prague 98/23 Lazio 138/33 Juventus 244/51
Club level honours – Sparta Prague (Czechoslovak League 1992-1993, Czech Gambrinus Liga 1993-1994, 1994-1995, Czech Republic Football Cup 1996), Lazio (Serie A 1999-2000, Coppa Italia 1997-1998, 1999-2000, Super Coppa Italiano 1998-1999, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup 1998-1999, UEFA Super Cup 1999, Uefa Cup runners up 1997-1998) Juventus (Serie A 2001-2002, Super Coppa 2002, 2003, Serie B 2006-2007, UEFA Champions League runners up 2002-2003
Nationality – Czech
Caps/goals – 91/18
National honours – UEFA Euro 1996 Runners Up, UEFA Euro 2004 Semi- finals