Celebrating the International Centurion, Tomas Rosicky
Tomas Rosicky has given nine years of his career to Arsenal, but to Czech Republic, he has given a lot more.
He first burst into the international scene as a 15-year-old in 1995 and he played through the youth teams before making his full debut for the national side as a 19-year-old against Ireland in February 2000. He was selected in the Czech team for Euro 2000 but the team was ousted from the group stages that featured Netherlands, France and Denmark. With Patrik Berger suspended, Rosicky played in the middle with Pavel Nedved as the Czech team lost to Holland and France but he was benched in the final game against Denmark.
Qualification for the 2002 FIFA World Cup went well for the Czech Republic and Rosicky played his part with two goals in the campaign. Their reward for coming second was a playoff against Belgium but they lost to the two-legged tie to the Belgians. As expected, Rosicky and the Czech team qualified for Euro 2004 and he was heavily involved in their group stage adventure as they sealed nine points from a group that had Latvia, Holland and Germany. In the quarterfinals, the Czech eased past Denmark but they suffered heartbreak in the semis with an extra time loss to eventual winners, Greece.
In was in the 2006 World Cup that the Czech maestro announced himself with this magnificent strike for his nation against the United States
He scored again with another strike against U.S.A but it was a disastrous campaign for the Czech as they lost their remaining games to Ghana and Italy. That’s when Rosicky’s adventure with Arsenal began and it has been a worthwhile journey ever since.
Following the retirement of Pavel Nedved in August 2006, the captain’s armband was handed to Rosicky. In the buildup to Euro 2008, Rosicky was involved in some controversy when he and some of his Czech teammates, Martin Jiranek, Tomas Ujfalusi, Jan Polak and Marek Cech, managed to get some prostitutes into their hotel by telling team officials that the girls were ‘autograph hunters’. They also claimed they had been celebrating Ujfalusi’s birthday. This earned the players a fine of £25,000.
Rosicky’s hamstring injury cost him his place in the Czech squad for Euro 2008. Without Rosicky to help the team, the Czechs began the campaign well with a victory over Switzerland but subsequent losses to Portugal and Turkey ended their tournament with more disappointment. Rosicky’s last international tournament with the Czech team was Euro 2012, where he led them to victories against Greece and Poland in the group stages before their quarterfinal loss to Portugal.
Yesterday, Czech Republic hosted Latvia and the game ended in a 1-1 draw but there was a personal milestone in the game for the Czech captain, as he notched up his 100th cap for his nation, which is a remarkable feat. The record amount of international games for any player is currently held by Egypt’s Achmed Hassan, that amassed 184 games for Egypt between 1996 and 2012 playing in eight African Cup of Nations and winning four.
Rosicky is one player I admire and I know a day would come when his aging legs won’t allow him to keep playing for the Gunners, but I hope that day doesn’t come anytime soon. He’s an awesome technician on the ball and like fine wine, he gets better with age. That hamstring injury robbed him off his best years for the club as he was part of that quartet of awesome in Arsenal’s midfield that almost won the Premier League in the 2007/08 season. Emmanuel Adebayor might get the plaudits for scoring the goals but Aliaksandr Hleb, Mathieu Flamini, Cesc Fabregas and Rosicky.
This season has featured 22 times with three goals to his name. Many Arsenal fans will be proud of his achievements for the club, especially his contributions in the second half of the 2011/12 and 2012/13 seasons.
Here’s to Tomas Rosicky, the newest international centurion.
Here are his top strikes for the Czech Republic, for your viewing pleasure.
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