Popluhár in 1966.
|Date of birth||12 September 1935|
|Place of birth||Čeklís, Czechoslovakia|
|Date of death||6 March 2011(aged 75)|
|Place of death||Bernolákovo, Slovakia|
|1955–1958||Rudá Hvězda Brno|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
Ján Popluhár (12 September 1935 – 6 March 2011) was a former Slovak football player who played primarily for club ŠK Slovan Bratislava and was also a member of the Czechoslovakia national team, playing in two World Cups (1958 and 1962).
Popluhár started his football career after high school with RH Brno. However, he is best known for the 15 seasons he spent with ŠK Slovan Bratislava where he made 262 competitive appearances in defence, scoring 21 goals, and following further stints with Brno and Zbrojovka Brno finished on 306 Czechoslovak league games and a goalscoring tally of 24. After finishing his career with Slovan in 1968 he moved to French league side Olympique Lyonnais. Two seasons there were enough, but subsequently he spent five years with Austrian amateur club SK Slovan Vienna as player/coach. Many of the thousands of fans in Vienna thought that Popluhár would be shown up by players twenty years younger than he was, but this did not happen. However, at the age of 44 Popluhár realised that his playing career was over.
Slovan Bratislava coach Leopold Šťastný was famous for creating nicknames for his players, and so Popluhár became known in Slovak football circles as 'Bimbo'. "I was called this because I always looked, and indeed was, good-natured, and I would never hurt anybody", recalls Popluhár.
At the 1962 World Cup in Chile, instead of turning the situation to his team's advantage, Popluhár brought the referee's attention to the injured Pelé. In 1997 he was awarded the World Fair Play award for this sporting act. "I met Pelé several times, the first occasion in Chile and then in various international and club games. He was undoubtedly the best, but there were not many one-to-one situations he won and also not many Slovak players who scored in the famous Maracana stadium. I belong to this lucky group after I scored with a free kick against Brazil in June 1966", he remembers.
Czechoslovak football was well represented in 1963 at Wembley stadium in a match to mark the centenary of the English Football Association. Popluhár, along with Svatopluk Pluskal and Josef Masopust, played in a world team that included Alfredo Di Stéfano, Raymond Kopa, Uwe Seeler, Denis Law, Eusébio and Ferenc Puskás against an England eleven. Further appearances in all-star teams followed.
Popluhár was elected Footballer of the Year in the former Czechoslovakia for the first time in 1965, despite the great form of his Czechoslovak team-mate Josef Masopust. "When I was at my peak, the conditions for a football player were modest here in Czechoslovakia, but the spirit and support of the spectators was incredible. I am not sure that today's players, however, would want to return to my era," he said.
After working for a sports company that went bankrupt and suffering prolonged health problems resulting in a modest invalidity pension and an unsuitable job, he returned to his footballing roots.[clarification needed]
In 2000 Popluhár was elected as the best Slovak footballer of the 20th century.
- Czechoslovak Cup (3): 1962, 1963, 1968
- 1962 FIFA World Cup: Silver Medal
- 1958 FIFA World Cup: Group stage
- 1960 European Nations' Cup: Bronze Medal
- Czechoslovak Footballer of the Year (1): 1965
- Slovak footballer of the 20th century
- "Jan Popluhar - International Appearances". The Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation.
- "Legendárny Popluhár (†75): Na Slovane ho najprv nechceli!" (in Slovak). čas.sk. 14 March 2011.
- Jeřábek, Luboš (2007). Ceský a ceskoslovenský fotbal - lexikon osobností a klubu (in Czech). Prague: Grada Publishing. p. 52. ISBN 978-80-247-1656-5.
- Ján Popluhár international stats at the Football Association of the Czech Republic website (Czech)
- UEFA.com – Slovakia's Golden Player – Popluhár: The people's choice
- Ján Popluhár at National-Football-Teams.com