Josef Masopust - The master dribbler and leader par excellence

Masopust appeared in 386 championship games and chalked up 79 goals for Dukla. He made his debut in the national squad in 1954, first entering the World Championship staged in Sweden in 1958 with games against Northern Ireland, Germany and Argentina.

Josef Masopust developed into a brilliant schemer with dazzling mastery of the ball, penetrating vision and dogged persistence.   -  The Hindu Archives

Josef Masopust (born February 9, 1931) first made a name for himself as a midfielder for Dukla Prague and the Czechoslovakian national selection. In between, working as a miner in the Bohemian coalmines, he played for the amateur club — Most SK — where his talent was first discovered.

At the age of 19 he signed on with the first division Teplice, where he occupied the outside right position. After being called up to the army, he automatically switched to the military team, Dukla Prague (formerly ATK), an arsenal of footballing talent.

It was here that Masopust developed into a brilliant schemer with dazzling mastery of the ball, penetrating vision and dogged persistence. He was renowned for his dribbling and sudden thrusts forward to striking position. Under his leadership, Dukla Prague became a force to be reckoned with on the international scene, dominating the European Cup and capturing seven championship titles in 10 years.

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All in all, Masopust appeared in 386 championship games and chalked up 79 goals for Dukla. He made his debut in the national squad in 1954, first entering the World Championship staged in Sweden in 1958 with games against Northern Ireland, Germany and Argentina.

Four years later in Chile in 1962, he made footballing history. Drawn in the same group as Brazil, Czechoslovakia made the quarterfinals where they toppled the favourites, Hungary. In the semi-final in Vina del Mar the Yugoslavians also bit the dust 3-1.

 

On June 17, 1962 the teams from Brazil and Czechoslovakia lined up against one another for the second time, this time in the final tie in Santiago. Thanks to Masopust, his team went into the lead, but unfortunately Schroiff, their goalkeeper — who had largely been responsible for their appearance in the final — hit a bad streak that day. The Brazilians promptly turned it to their advantage by winning 3-1 and running off with their second World Championship title.

Masopust's sparkling display was rewarded the same year when he was elected European 'Footballer of the Year', beating Eusebio, Schnellinger and Sekularac.

In 1963 he was called into the FIFA selection for the Football Association's centenary celebration match in Wembley stadium.

Masopust ended his career with Crossing Molenbeeck in Belgium after which he turned to coaching. In 1978 he became champion again with Zbrojovka Brno before managing Hasselt FC in Belgium, then Dukla Prague and from 1984 to 1987, the Chechoslovakian national squad itself.

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