Footballer of the year

28-12-2001

It's been a big year for the Borussia Dortmund midfielder Tomas Rosicky and it was no surprise when Rosicky was named Czech Footballer of the Year at a star-studded ceremony at Prague's Kongresove Centrum on Thursday night. Rosicky is regarded as the boy wonder of Czech football and is the most talented Czech player to emerge in some years. By Ian Willoughby.

Footballer Tomas Rosicky, photo CTKFootballer Tomas Rosicky, photo CTK Not only is Tomas Rosicky the Czech Footballer of the Year he is - at 21 - the youngest ever player to get the award. Rosicky doesn't really look the part - with his baby face and slight frame. When he made his first appearance after joining Borussia Dortmund almost a year ago - at an indoor tournament - spectators shouted 'eat some steaks'.

Rosicky joined Dortmund from the leading Czech club Sparta Prague almost a year ago - for what was then a Czech record of almost half a billion crowns. Rosicky's departure for the bright lights of a big European club was no surprise - for some time it had been a question of not if but when. That's the way with all exceptional young Czech players - though many commentators had been saying for a while that Rosicky was more than a little special and the best Czech player to emerge for some years...

Rosicky can't be too homesick in Dortmund; the giant Czech forward Jan Koller - who is around twice as big as Rosicky - is a team-mate. What's more Rosicky's parents live with him in Germany - and his brother is set to join them soon. I might add that a lot of German girls might also like to mother Rosicky - apparently he is a bit of a teen pin-up.

Yes, it's been quite a year for Rosicky and - he says - a fast one. He also says though that he has not fulfilled the dreams he had twelve months ago. Borussia Dortmund didn't win the Bundesliga and - more importantly for Czech fans - the Czech Republic did not qualify for next year's World Cup finals. Rosicky missed the first leg of the World Cup play-off against Belgium through suspension - for a slight guy he does throw his weight around a bit Many Czech fans hoped he would prove something of a secret weapon or saviour for the second leg but it wasn't to be - he gave a lacklustre performance and the Czechs lost.

Not to worry though - given Rosicky's youth he will - barring injury - have many more opportunities over the next decade or more to show off his delicate touch and masterful ball control. In my opinion, the biggest question about Tomas Rosicky is whether he will develop into that rarity - a truly world class Czech player.

28-12-2001