It is said that we only truly appreciate something once it has gone. They now realize just how good they had it during the Karel Poborsky era in the Czech Republic.
Along with close friend Pavel Nedved, Karel Poborsky was the common thread running through an unforgettable decade for the Czechs and their ‘golden generation of soccer players.’
In 1996, both players were part of the team that came close to being crowned European champions, and while Pavel Nedved went on to become the nation’s poster boy, Karel Poborsky quietly achieved great things.
He continued to serve his country after he retired from international football in May 2007. Since retiring from professional football, Karel Poborsky has served as technical/academy director of the Czech Football Association.
“I do not miss the game,” he said. “My time is over. My main complaint is the lack of opportunities to move around and keep fit. But I am happy to play a different role within soccer, and I appreciate that I am still involved in it in some capacity..”
Karel Poborsky Memories
The memories and emotions associated with Karel Poborsky’s playing career still evoke vivid memories and contrasts. Regrets? The play-off defeat denied the Czech Republic a place at the 2002 World Cup Korea/Japan. “We messed up in those games,” he grumbled about Belgium’s defeats in both homes and away games. Nevertheless, his international career still leaves him glowing with pride despite a few setbacks here and there.
“I represented my country for 12 years and participated in four major finals – this was a wonderful experience.” Karel Poborsky mentioned. It was Euro 96 in England that stood out as the most successful tournament. We won every match despite being underdogs and made it to the final. I also enjoyed the 2004 European Championships in Portugal. My opinion is that we had the best team in Europe at that stage, even though we lost to Greece in the semi-finals.”
During Euro 96, a global audience became aware of Karel Poborsky as the Czech Republic reached the final. Despite his many contributions, the quarter-final at Villa Park remains synonymous with a legendary scooped lob over Portugal goalkeeper Vitor Baia.
Since then, Karel Poborsky has been synonymous with this goal, and the fact that it is still regarded as a trademark of his certainly gives him great satisfaction. “This is a great honor for me,” he said. I still find it a rewarding experience to think about that moment in my career.”
By the end of Euro 96, Karel Poborsky had become one of the most sought-after players in Europe, and Manchester United won the race to sign him. But, for the then-24-year-old, the challenge he faced at Old Trafford and in England’s top-flight came too soon. “Because of my inexperience and inability to speak English, I had a lot of difficulties there,” he recalled. “In addition, they had plenty of talent already.”
Later, he enjoyed happier times at Benfica – “I loved living in Portugal” – and Lazio, which Karel Poborsky described as the peak of his club career. When considering the best player he teamed up with during his illustrious career, there is no need to look to England, Portugal, or Italy. The decision is difficult for me because I always feel proud of playing with players like Eric Cantona and Peter Schmeichel. Pavel Nedved is the one I would mention if I had to pick just one.”
After contracting a brain infection in 2016, Karel Poborsky was placed in a medically-induced coma, leaving the muscles in his face paralyzed and hypersensitive to light. However, he has fully recovered and is preparing the Czech Republic team for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup qualification.
Karel Poborsky Playing Career
- Ceske Budejovice (1991-94)
- Viktoria Zizkov (1994-95)
- Slavia Prague (1995-96)
- Manchester United (1996-97)
- Benfica (1998-2000)
- Lazio (2001-02)
- Sparta Prague (2002-05)
- Ceske Budejovice (2006-07)
Czech Republic National Team: 118 appearances Eight goals
- 3 Czech league titles (1995/96, 2002/03, 2004/05)
- 1 English Premier League title (1996/97)
- 1 Czech Cup (2004)
- European Championship finalist (1996)
Main Image: Scoopnest