Vladimír Šmicer

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Vladimír Šmicer
Vladimir Smicer.jpg
Šmicer in 2005
Personal information
Full name Vladimír Šmicer
Date of birth (1973-05-24) 24 May 1973 (age 41)
Place of birth Děčín, Czechoslovakia
Height 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Playing position Attacking midfielder
Youth career
1985–1987 Kovostroj Děčín
1987–1992 Slavia Prague
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1992–1996 Slavia Prague 81 (26)
1996–1999 Lens 91 (16)
1999–2005 Liverpool 121 (10)
2005–2007 Bordeaux 28 (3)
2007–2009 Slavia Prague 23 (5)
Total 344 (60)
National team
1993 Czechoslovakia 1 (0)
1994–2005 Czech Republic 80 (27)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 2009-07-17.
† Appearances (Goals).

Vladimír Šmicer (Czech pronunciation: [ˈʃmɪtsɛr], born 24 May 1973) is a former Czech football midfielder player. Šmicer was a devout player of Slavia Prague, the only Czech club he ever played for. He also played notably for Lens in France, with whom he won the Ligue 1 title. In 1999, Šmicer moved to England, where he played for Liverpool and won multiple honours. He is perhaps best remembered at Liverpool for his long-range goal in the 2005 Champions League Final. Internationally, he played once for Czechoslovakia and 80 times for the Czech Republic. He retired from playing professional football in 2009.

Club career[edit]

Early career[edit]

An attacking midfielder, Šmicer first shot to prominence in 1996, helping Slavia Prague reach the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup and then starring for the Czech Republic during their run to the final of Euro 96.

Šmicer didn’t have to wait for notice at Euro 96. He signed a contract with the French club Lens prior to the championship. While at Lens, he enjoyed more success, inspiring the club to a first ever French title in 1997–98 - their only title to date. That season he scored seven goals and was a leader on the ground. He played in the Champions League and played a pivotal role in the side's successes in this tournament.

He left Lens to move to Liverpool in June 1999.

Liverpool[edit]

Šmicer joined Liverpool for a fee of £4.2 million, recruited to fill the void left by the departure of Steve McManaman to Real Madrid. Upon arriving at Anfield in 1999, Šmicer was given the number 7 shirt, although he would later switch to number 11 after the arrival of Harry Kewell. When he left Liverpool in 2005, Šmicer said "Just signing for Liverpool in itself was a dream because I supported them as a kid. It was a dream come true". He made his debut for Liverpool in a game against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough[1] and scored his first Premier League goal in a 3–2 away win against Watford.[2] However, his first campaign at Liverpool was a difficult one as he struggled to come to terms with the pace of the English game and suffered a succession of injuries.

The 2000–01 season saw Šmicer or "Vladi", as the Liverpool fans affectionately called him, fare much better. He scored his first Premier League goal of the season in a 4–3 loss to Leeds United at Elland Road and contributed to Liverpool's treble, starting in the FA Cup and League Cup finals and appearing as a substitute in the UEFA Cup final.

Unfortunately, Šmicer was plagued with injury problems and a lack of consistency meant he was in and out of the team. However, there were some memorable moments for the Czech, including the last minute winner against Chelsea in 2002,[3] and a stunning volley against Borussia Dortmund[4] in Europe along with his impressive performance in the 2–0 win over Roma in the Champions League at Anfield. A serious injury suffered in late 2003, however, blighted the rest of his Liverpool career.

He returned to fitness in the 2004–05 season and, due to a severe injury crisis at the club, Šmicer began to feature prominently for Liverpool under new manager Rafael Benítez. His playing return coincided with Liverpool's quest for the Champions League as he made substitute appearances against Bayer Leverkusen, Juventus and Chelsea as Liverpool qualified for the Champions League final against A.C. Milan.

Prior to the final, it was decided by Benítez that Šmicer's contract was not to be renewed. Furthermore, Šmicer, who celebrated his 32nd birthday the day before, didn't start the final. However, after 22 minutes, an injury to Harry Kewell gave him his opportunity to end his Liverpool career in style: "Before the final, I so was eager to get on. It was my last match for Liverpool so I was determined to end it in style. I was free in my head and that was my motivation – to do well for the club in my last match. I wanted to enjoy the big game."

Despite being named as a substitute, Šmicer was soon brought on for Kewell, who had suffered an injury. At that time the scoreline was 1–0 to Milan and Liverpool then went on to go 3–0 down at half time, but in the second half, Liverpool managed to command more of the pitch and just past the hour mark when Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard pulled a goal back from a John Arne Riise cross. Less than two minutes later, Šmicer struck a 20-yard shot which flew past Dida into the far right corner. After Xabi Alonso scored the equaliser, the match went into extra-time and then penalties, in which Šmicer scored the decisive penalty which was his second goal of the final and his last ever goal for Liverpool. He celebrated his converted spot kick with a kiss of his shirt's badge in front of the Liverpool fans. Moments later, Jerzy Dudek saved Andriy Shevchenko's penalty to win both the shoot-out and the final for Liverpool.[5]

Bordeaux[edit]

Šmicer moved on to Bordeaux in the summer of 2005. In the 2006–07 Champions League, Bordeaux were drawn against Liverpool in the group stages. He indicated his delight at returning to Anfield, although injury barred him from playing a part in either of the two matches between the sides. Šmicer suffered a serious knee injury that sidelined him for more than a year. The injury was the worst moment of his career and he even considered retiring. As a result, he missed the 2006 World Cup in Germany, but he did not retire. After another long recovery, Šmicer did not extend his contract in Bordeaux and left the club in the summer of 2007. He made 28 appearances and scored three goals during his time at the club.

Slavia Prague[edit]

In July 2007, Šmicer returned to SK Slavia Praha, where he signed a one year contract. His return to Slavia sparked joy among the club's supporters. That season, Slavia won its first league title after 12 years, a triumph which Šmicer was also part of. Once again, this spell of his career was blighted by injuries. In 2008 he won the Personality of the League award at the Czech Footballer of the Year awards.[6] He ended his football career after draw 0–0 with Viktoria Plzeň on 9 November 2009. He officially made farewell with professional football career at Synot Tip Arena in Prague on 11 May 2010, at the friendly match Slavia Prague – Sparta Prague, featuring legendary players of both clubs. 15,000 fans attended his last match.[7]

International career[edit]

Šmicer began his International career in 1993. He was an essential player in three European Championships for the Czech Republic. In total earning 80 caps, scoring 27 goals. He also has one cap for the old Czechoslovakia national team.

Šmicer was part of the Czech Republic squad for Euro 1996. The then 22-year-old midfielder started the country’s stunning campaign in England. The Czechs were down 3–2 in a game against Russia and needed to draw in order to qualify for the play-off rounds. Šmicer scored the all important equalizer two minutes before the end of the game. The Czechs then advanced through the play-offs to the final game, which they lost to Germany after extra-time.

Four years later, in Euro 2000. Šmicer scored both goals in the national team’s only victory, 2–0 against Denmark.[8] At Euro 2004, he scored the winning goal in the team’s 3–2 win over the Netherlands. In that game, the Czechs were 2–0 down after 20 minutes of play but still managed to recover. The comeback began an impressive march to the tournament’s semi-finals. Šmicer has said the game against Netherlands was the most memorable moment in his international career.

Šmicer was unable to participate in the 2006 World Cup due to a leg injury.[9]

Šmicer holds the distinction of being one of only six players to score at three UEFA European Championships – Euro '96, Euro 2000 and Euro 2004. The others being Jürgen Klinsmann (Euro 88, Euro 92 and Euro 96), Thierry Henry, Nuno Gomes (both Euro 2000, Euro 2004 and Euro 2008), Hélder Postiga, Zlatan Ibrahimović, and Cristiano Ronaldo (Euro 2004, Euro 2008, Euro 2012)

Although he didn't play at Euro 2008, Šmicer made his debut as a television commentator during the Euro 2008 opening match between the home team Switzerland and his native Czech Republic, held 7 June in Basel.

Managerial career[edit]

Just one day after retiring from football, Šmicer became sports manager of the Czech national football team working alongside coach Michal Bílek.[10][11]

Personal life[edit]

He is married to Pavlína Vízková. They have a daughter, Natalie, and a son, Jiří.

Statistics[edit]

Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Czechoslovakia League Cup League Cup Continental Total
1992–93 Slavia Prague First League 21 9
Czech Republic League Czech Cup League Cup Europe Total
1993–94 Slavia Prague Gambrinus liga 18 6
1994–95 16 3
1995–96 28 9
France League Coupe de France Coupe de la Ligue Europe Total
1996–97 Lens Division 1 33 5
1997–98 28 7
1998–99 30 4
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
1999–2000 Liverpool Premier League 21 1 2 0 2 0 0 0 25 1
2000–01 27 2 5 1 6 4 11 0 49 7
2001–02 22 4 1 0 1 0 11 1 35 5
2002–03 21 0 1 0 5 0 6 1 33 1
2003–04 20 3 1 0 1 1 3 0 25 4
2004–05 10 0 0 0 0 0 6 1 16 1
France League Coupe de France Coupe de la Ligue Europe Total
2005–06 Girondins Bordeaux Ligue 1 25 3
2006–07 3 0
Czech Republic League Czech Cup League Cup Europe Total
2007–08 Slavia Prague Gambrinus liga 12 2
2008–09 8 3
2009–10 3 0
Total Czechoslovakia 21 9
Czech Republic 85 23
France 119 19
England 121 10 10 1 15 5 37 3 183 19
Career total 346 61

Honours[edit]

Czech Republic SK Slavia Praha[edit]

Winner:

France RC Lens[edit]

Winner:

England Liverpool[edit]

Winner:

Runner-up:

France Bordeaux[edit]

Winner:

Czech Republic National Team Czech[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Sheffield Wednesday 1 - 2 Liverpool" LFCHistory.net Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  2. ^ "Reds end brave Watford fight". BBC. 15 January 2000. Retrieved 17 March 2014. 
  3. ^ "Smicer's late strike takes 'Pool to the top". Irish Examiner. 25 March 2002. Retrieved 10 November 2009. 
  4. ^ "Liverpool cruise through". BBC Sport. 30 October 2001. Retrieved 10 November 2009. 
  5. ^ "AC Milan 3–3 Liverpool (aet)". BBC Sport. 25 May 2005. Retrieved 10 November 2009. 
  6. ^ (Czech) Historie ankety Fotbalista roku at ČMFS website
  7. ^ Jaromír Novák: Fotbalový Eden slavil: Šmicerovu benefici ozdobilo dvanáct gólů at iDNES.cz, 11 May 2010
  8. ^ "Republic Czech out". BBC Sport. 22 June 2000. Retrieved 31 December 2012. 
  9. ^ World Soccer. June 2006. 
  10. ^ Šmicer named Czech national team manager
  11. ^ "Smicer given Czech Republic role". BBC Sport. 10 November 2009. Retrieved 10 November 2009. 

External links[edit]