A national hero

Rosicky learnt his football from his father Jiri, a former Sparta Prague player. With his mother Eva Rosicka having been a table tennis player, Rosicky seemed destined for a life in sport, writes Andy Hampson.

Tomas Rosicky is a dynamic midfielder/forward and was rated as one of the best talents in the world when he joined English Premier League side Arsenal last summer.

He enjoyed a solid first year with the Gunners, showing flashes of his world-class talent but spent the campaign playing in an under-achieving side.

Rosicky, slight of build but with great touch, technique and with a huge appetite for attacking play, learnt his football from his father Jiri, a former Sparta Prague player. With his mother Eva Rosicka having been a table tennis player, Rosicky seemed destined for a life in sport. His brother, also Jiri, played at a high level too for Sparta Prague and Atletico Madrid. CKD Kompresory, of Prague, was Rosicky’s first club at the age of six. He was there barely a year and actually made just one start in a competitive match before being invited to join the Sparta Prague under-sevens team — thanks to his parents.

Sparta had actually wanted brother Jiri, who was three years older than Tomas, but their parents would only allow it on the condition they took on both sons. It was not a decision the club regretted as Tomas rose through the ranks to the first team. He made his debut late in the 1998-99 season and went on to establish himself the following year in a team playing in the Champions League.

His performances quickly attracted attention and earned him international recognition. After Euro 2000 a move to one of Europe’s bigger leagues became inevitable. Borussia Dortmund was the club that came in with the biggest money — 18 million euros (GBP12 million) — and he joined the German club in January 2001.

It was there that his career really took off as Borussia won a Bundesliga title and reached the UEFA Cup final in 2002. Unfortunately for Rosicky, Borussia then started to wane as the club plummeted into a financial crisis. There was much speculation that he would leave but the club was reluctant to part with its prize asset. It was not until the summer of 2006 that the club finally bowed to pressure, selling Rosicky to the long interested Arsenal for 10million euro (GBP6.8 million).

Rosicky had a good year with Arsenal, which often used him in a wide position. His only major disappointment on a personal level was his lack of goals, just six in the season, but his ability and work-rate remain beyond question.

On the international front, Rosicky has represented the Czech Republic at all levels. He has been one of the pillars of the team since the qualifying campaign for the 2002 World Cup, which the team failed to reach. He did play in Euro 2000, Euro 2004 and at the 2006 World Cup and is now the team’s captain.

Rosicky is currently dating Radka Kocurova, the model and TV presenter who was runner-up in the Miss Czech Republic pageant of 2002. They met at a photoshoot.

Rosicky drives around in an elegant Mercedes-Benz CLK. The CLK range is noted for its comfort and economy in terms of running costs. It is priced at around GBP20,000 and that includes clever parking sensors that help when reversing into difficult gaps.

Factfile Name: Tomas Rosicky Position: Midfielder Club: Arsenal DOB: 04/10/80 Czech Republic caps: 62 Czech Republic goals: 22

Czech Republic debut: v Republic of Ireland, February 2000

Moment to remember

Rosicky etched his name in Czech folklore when he netted the decisive goal that took his national team to the World Cup for the first time in its history in Germany, 2006. The Czech Republic was involved in a tight two-legged play-off with Norway but Rosicky settled the tie and secured a 2-0 aggregate win with a low drive in a stormy second meeting in Prague.

Moment to forget

Partly due to Rosicky’s influence, his nation actually went to Germany ranked as the second-best team in the world. It got its campaign off to a flying start with Rosicky scoring in a 3-0 win over USA but things soon went wrong with a disastrous 2-0 defeat to Ghana. The team still had hope of progressing, but eventual champion Italy put paid to that with a 3-0 win in the final group game.