He scattered the barracks with Norway: I rode my donkey. Why did he play in heels?

He took part in both playoff matches against Norway in the starting lineup – in the key stopper position. David Rozehnal helped the national team in 2005 qualify for the World Cup in Germany.

The defender, who started the Czech, German, French, Italian and English leagues, is well aware of the influence of Pavel Nedvěd’s return to the play-off with Norway in November 2005. “It was a boost for us “, remembers David Rozehnal, 41 years old.

Were you favorite for the duel with Norway?
“I think it’s so much lighter. We had a team of TOP footballers who played in big clubs and were leaders. I’m talking mainly about the older ones. The Norwegians had big names, like striker Carew, but we were a bit of a favourite.”

Did you feel this?
“Barracks is tricky. It’s a double game with who. You can’t see as much open football as you do in classic qualifying. Also, it was played on a difficult pitch – both away and at home. “

Were you nervous?
“I jumped more then, I was in the starting XI. I wasn’t even the youngest in the team anymore. It was said to have to be dealt with, there was a healthy nervousness. You realize you’ll be either a zero or a hero. But it immediately hit me, I came onto the pitch, I turned my brain off and turned up my own, I went for the team win.”

Four years earlier, the national team had failed in a play-off with Belgium. There were a lot of witnesses on the staff. Did you take failure as a scarecrow?
“I didn’t experience it, but I know it wasn’t very good. Even for me as a spectator, as a fan of Czech football. The boys who were part of the failure maybe been a bit eroded, however, they were already experienced and confident. Personally, it didn’t scare me in the back of my head.”

Pavel Nedvěd, who hadn’t started since the last match of the 2004 European Championship, returned to the team, was that a big success factor?
“It was a big boost for the younger boys, but I think also for the older boys. Pavel Nedvěd was a generally important player. For the national team, for the clubs.”

In what?
“Someone came back who was of incredible quality and gave the team a lot of power both physically and mentally. Firstly he managed to shut down the team, and secondly he managed to reduce the performance on the pitch. As a young man, I had to ride my ass to match him. No, it’s wrong to at least get close to him.”

David Rozehnal and Pavel Nedvěd in the EURO 2004 quarter-finals against Denmark

The first match was played in Oslo, you won 1-0. I remember two things: Vladimír Šmicer scored with a header, which was not usual, and the crazy pitch. And you?
“I confess that I don’t remember the goal, but I will remember the pitch for the rest of my life. Already in pre-match training we chased it with coach Brückner and since he was tragic. He told us to take the fifteen pins. But it was as if we were running on heels. (laughs) In the end, it depended on the players, but I must say that I was more afraid of the field than the opponents.”

Why?
“Our team was mainly characterized by the fact that they wanted to play football. And it didn’t work here. It was a fighting game. They kicked the attackers, we tried to do that out somehow. Other than the result, I didn’t feel very good.”

Was the tactic suitable for the surface?
“Of course you can play the best football, but once you don’t have the conditions you can’t. Even Barcelona couldn’t combine on this pitch. That’s why we kicked Honza Koller and reacted to the balls dropped. We played defensively with caution, simply in offense. “

The second duel was decided by Tomáš Rosický.
“At that time the rule of goal from the opponent’s field applied. That’s why I thought after Ros’s goal that they should score twice, which they can’t. manage with our quality. I especially remember the euphoria after the game.”

You were twenty-five, you were digging in Paris for St. Germain. What was your position in the national team?
“I had to wait for a chance. When I got to the national team, Tomáš Ujfaluši and Renda Bolf were on the tracker. Martin Jiránek was in front of me. I knew my position. But at the time of the game I was already at the base I started replacing Bolfín, who had back problems. I think that’s where it broke. I showed something in Paris and I don’t think I disappointed even in national team. I was satisfied, I took the great honor of being in the team.”

The current Czech team plays the first part of the World Cup in Qatar in Sweden on Thursday. Will he move forward?
“One thing is important. Even if the team is weakened by the absence of important guys, we cannot say that we have nothing to lose. We have nothing to lose by qualifying for the FIFA Cup. world. There’s no turning back, you don’t have corrective matches. I believe in success, it’s always important to attract the positive idea.”

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