Josef Bican

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Josef Bican
Josef "Pepi" Bican.jpg
Personal information
Full name Josef Bican
Date of birth (1913-09-25)25 September 1913
Place of birth Vienna, Austria-Hungary
Date of death 12 December 2001(2001-12-12) (aged 88)
Place of death Prague, Czech Republic
Playing position Striker
Youth career
1925–1927 Hertha Vienna II
1927–1928 Schustek
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1928–1930 Schustek 23 (24)
1930–1931 Farbenlutz 20 (47)
1931–1935 Rapid Vienna 49 (52)
1935–1937 Admira 26 (18)
1937–1948 Slavia Prague 217 (395)
1950–1951 FC Vítkovice 33 (30)
1952 FC Hradec Králové 9 (19)
1953–1955 Dynamo Prague 29 (22)
Total 406 (670)
National team
1933–1936 Austria 30 (19)
1938–1949 Czechoslovakia 14 (12)
1939 Bohemia and Moravia 1 (3)
Teams managed
1954–1956 Slavia Prague
1956–1959 TJ Slovan Liberec
1959–1960 TJ Spartak ZJS Brno
1963–1964 TJ Baník Příbram
1964 FC Hradec Králové
1967–1969 SONP Kladno
1969–1972 KSK Tongeren
1977 Benešov
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Josef "Pepi" Bican (25 September 1913 – 12 December 2001) was a Czech-Austrian football striker. It is estimated by footballing statistics page RSSSF that Bican scored around 800 goals in all competitive matches, not including friendly games. This would make him the most prolific scorer in football history.[1]

He was a member of the Austrian Wunderteam of the 1930s and was the season's highest scorer in the whole of Europe on five separate occasions. Bican had the ability to play with both feet, he also had considerable pace and was able to run 100 metres in 10.8 seconds, which was as fast as many sprinters of the time. The IFFHS awarded Bican the "Golden Ball" as the greatest goalscorer of the last century.

Early life[edit]

Bican was born in Vienna to Ludmila and František Bican. He was the second of three children.[2] Ludmila was Viennese Czech and František came from Sedlice in Southern Bohemia. Josef's father František was a footballer who played for Hertha Vienna. He went to fight in World War I and returned uninjured. However, František was to die at the age of just 30 in 1921 because he refused an operation to treat a kidney injury sustained in a football match. His mother worked in a restaurant kitchen. The family's poverty meant that Bican had to play football without any shoes, which helped him hone his ball control skills. Bican attended the Jan Amos Komenský school, a Czech school in Vienna. Four years after his father's death in 1925, twelve-year old Bican started to play for the Hertha Vienna junior team, Hertha Vienna II. When he was 18, Bican was spotted by Rapid Vienna, who were a big club in the city at the time.

Club career[edit]

When Bican first joined Rapid, he received 150 schillings, but, by the age of 20, Rapid wanted to keep him so much that they paid him 600 schillings.

In 1937, Bican left Vienna to join Czech club Slavia Prague.[2] He played for Slavia throughout World War II. In eight league seasons he would score 328 goals, including 57 in 24 matches one particular year. Three times in his career, Bican scored seven goals in a game.[3] In a 1939/40 league match against Zlín, Bican found the net seven times as Slavia ran out 10–1 winners.[3] In the 1940/41 season, Bican matched his feat of the previous season, again against Zlín, scoring seven times, as Slavia won by a 12–1 scoreline.[3] It was 1947/48 before Bican managed his third seven-goal match, as Slavia defeated České Budějovice in a game which finished 15–1.[3]

He was, in the leagues that he played, the top-scorer 12 times in his 27 years career and Europe's top scorer in five consecutive seasons, from 1939/40 to 1943/44 while the most of players and the physically fit young men were in the war.

In the devastated Europe after the war, several of Europe's biggest clubs should have wanted Bican. Juventus offered him handsome terms to join them, but he refused, supposedly after he was advised that Communists might take over Italy. He stayed in Prague and, ironically, the Communists came to power there in 1948. Bican refused to join the Communist Party, just as he had refused to join the Nazi Party in Austria.

Bican tried to improve his standing with the Communists by joining steel works Železárny Vítkovice. In 1951, he joined FC Hradec Králové, but, on 1 May 1953, the Communist Party forced him to leave the city and, therefore, the club. After being forced to leave, he returned to Slavia Prague, or, as it was known then, Dynamo Prague. He finally retired from playing, still at Slavia, at the age of 42 in 1955. He was the oldest player in the league at that time. During this time Bican briefly managed Hradec Králové and Slavia and then was appointed manager of Pilsen.

International career[edit]

On 29 November 1933, aged 20 years and 64 days, Bican made his debut for Austria in a 2–2 draw against Scotland. He went on to play for them at the 1934 World Cup, when the Austrian Wunderteam reached the semi-finals. His solitary goal in the tournament came in extra-time in the Austrians 3–2 victory over France.

At the time Bican was playing for Slavia Prague, he applied for Czechoslovak citizenship. However, when he eventually became a Czechoslovak citizen, he discovered that a clerical error meant he couldn't play at the World Cup in 1938. In total, he scored 34 goals in 45 international matches for 3 teams (Austria, Czechoslovakia and Bohemia & Moravia). His final national team appearance was for Czechoslovakia in a 3–1 defeat against Bulgaria on 4 September 1949.[4]

However, his success did have its downside. Other members of the team became jealous of the tall, handsome Bican's success. He was often called abusive names, such as "Austrian bastard".[5]

International goals[edit]

Austria's goal tally first

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 10 December 1933 Olympic Stadium, Amsterdam, Netherlands  Netherlands 1–0 1–0 Friendly
2. 11 February 1934 Charmilles Stadium, Geneva, Switzerland  Switzerland 1–0 3–2 1933-35 Dr. Gero Cup
3. 3–2
4. 15 April 1934 Hohe Warte Stadium, Vienna, Austria  Hungary 4–2 5–2 Friendly
5. 5–2
6. 27 May 1934 Stadio Benito Mussolini, Turin, Italy  France 3–1 3–2 1934 FIFA World Cup
7. 6 October 1935 Praterstadion, Vienna, Austria  Hungary 1–1 4–4 Friendly
8. 2–2
9. 3–4
10. 19 January 1936 Estadio Metropolitano de Madrid, Madrid, Spain  Spain 1–0 5–4 Friendly
11. 26 January 1936 Campo da Constituição, Porto, Portugal  Portugal 3–1 3–2 Friendly
12. 22 March 1936 Praterstadion, Vienna, Austria  Czechoslovakia 1–1 1–1 1936-37 Dr. Gero Cup
13. 5 April 1936 Praterstadion, Vienna, Austria  Hungary 2–3 3–5 Friendly
14. 1–1

Life after retirement[edit]

Tombstone of Josef "Pepi" Bican at Prague's Vyšehrad cemetery
Josef Bican's grave, plus a headstone for his wife Jarmila, who died exactly ten years after him.

In the spring of 1968, Bican was told that he would be allowed to take a coaching job abroad. He impressed the Belgian team Tongeren and they hired him as a coach, where he had some success taking them from Division 4 to Division 2.

Around this time, Pelé was heading for his "1000th" goal and many journalists were looking for another player who had scored a thousand goals. Former Austrian player "Bimbo" Binder suggested Bican, who he claimed had scored 5000 goals.[5] When reporters asked Bican why he hadn't made more of a fuss over his goalscoring feats, he simply said "who'd have believed me if I said I'd scored five times as many goals as Pelé?!" However to score this 5000 goals he should have kept an average of 185 goals/year along all his 27 years of career, a fact that would be extremely unlikely to go unnoticed, so counting league goals Bican scored 643.[6]

Josef "Pepi" Bican spent the last few months of his life in hospital with heart problems. He had hoped to be home for Christmas, but died less than 2 weeks before that, at the age of 88.

Trivia[edit]

  • Once during his youth career, his mother, Ludmila, came to watch him play, and after a foul her son had been on the receiving end of that she ran onto the pitch and beat the opponent with her umbrella.
  • It was not only his incredible goalscoring feats that endeared Bican to the footballing public. During his time with Slavia, crowds used to number in the hundreds just to watch him train because Bican's training sessions were often more like circus acts – and fans were happy to pay a few korunas to watch him. Whilst the rest of the squad practiced routines or ran laps, Bican would turn-up with a hamper of empty bottles, which he would proceed to balance on the top of the flat wooden crossbar, spaced about one foot apart. He then stepped back to the edge of the penalty-area, put down a bunch of balls and took aim. One by one from twenty yards Bican would knock the bottles off the bar with his shots, and on a bad day – the story goes – he would maybe miss one in ten.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Prolific Scorers Data". RSSSF.com. 26 June 2007. Retrieved 9 October 2009. 
  2. ^ a b Nováček, Ondřej (25 September 2008). "Legendární fotbalový kanonýr Bican by se dožil pětadevadesáti let". Česká televize (in Czech). Retrieved 8 May 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d Jeřábek, Luboš; Palička, Jan (7 October 2007). "Brazilcovo šílenství: sedm gólů za zápas". idnes.cz (in Czech). Retrieved 22 April 2012. 
  4. ^ Josef Bican international stats at the Football Association of the Czech Republic website (Czech)
  5. ^ a b Willoughby, Ian (23 January 2002). "Czechs in History: Josef "Pepi" Bican". Czech Radio. Retrieved 8 May 2012. 
  6. ^ IFFHS

External links[edit]