Vladimír Šmicer

Vladimír Šmicer (Czech pronunciation: [ˈʃmɪtsɛr], born 24 May 1973) is a Czech former professional footballer who played as a midfielder. He was a player of Slavia Prague, the only Czech club he ever played for. In 1999, Šmicer moved to England where he played for Liverpool, winning multiple honours. He is perhaps best remembered at Liverpool for his long-range goal in the 2005 Champions League Final victory against Milan. At Liverpool he also won an UEFA Cup, FA Cup and League Cup treble in 2001 as well as the 2003 League Cup.

Vladimír Šmicer
Šmicer in 2005
Personal information
Full name Vladimír Šmicer
Date of birth (1973-05-24) 24 May 1973
Place of birth Děčín, Czechoslovakia
Height 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Position(s) 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 RCS 1 (0)
1994–2006 Czech Republic 80 (27)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

He also notably played for French sides Lens, with whom he won the Ligue 1 title, and Bordeaux.

Internationally, Šmicer played once for the Czechoslovak national side and 80 times for the Czech Republic. He retired from professional football in 2009.

Club career

Early career

An attacking midfielder, Šmicer first shot to prominence in 1996, helping Slavia Prague reach the semi-finals of the 1995–96 UEFA Cup and then starring for the Czech Republic during their run to the final of UEFA Euro 1996.

Šmicer did not have to wait to be noticed at Euro 1996, as he signed a contract with French club Lens prior to the tournament. 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 UEFA 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

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 Liverpool debut in a match against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough Stadium[1] and scored his first Premier League goal in a 3–2 away win against Watford.[2] His first campaign at Liverpool, however, 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 remainder 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 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, did not start the final. After 22 minutes, however, 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, his second "goal" of the final and his last ever kick 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

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 FIFA 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

In July 2007, Šmicer returned to Slavia Prague, 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. Fifteen-thousand fans attended his last match.[7]

International career

Šmicer began his international career in 1993. He was an essential player in three UEFA European Championships for the Czech Republic, in total earning 80 caps and scoring 27 goals. He also has one cap for the Representation of Czechs and Slovaks team (the combined team of the Czech Republic and Slovakia after the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, as the nations started the 1994 FIFA World Cup qualification as the unified country).

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, at Euro 2000, Šmicer scored both goals in the national team's only tournament 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 FIFA World Cup due to a leg injury.[9]

Šmicer was only the second player to score at three European Championships (1996, 2000 and 2004), after Jürgen Klinsmann (1988, 1992 and 1996).

Although he did not play at Euro 2008, Šmicer made his debut as a television commentator during the tournament's opening match between hosts Switzerland and his native Czech Republic, held 7 June in Basel.

Managerial career

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

Personal life

Šmicer is married to Pavlína Vízková, daughter of Olympic gold medal-winning footballer Ladislav Vízek. They have a daughter, Natalie, and a son, Jiří.

Šmicer stood for minor Czech party VIZE 2014 in the European Parliament election; his stated priority was to reduce obesity among children.[12]

Career statistics

Club

Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
SeasonClubLeague AppsGoals AppsGoals AppsGoals AppsGoals AppsGoals
Czechoslovakia League Cup League Cup Continental Total
1992–93Slavia PragueFirst League219--00
Czech Republic League Czech Cup League Cup Europe Total
1993–94Slavia PragueGambrinus liga186--20
1994–951630--113
1995–9628942--1114312
France League Coupe de France Coupe de la Ligue Europe Total
1996–97LensDivision 1335003021386
1997–982875340614311
1998–993041040--354
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
1999–2000LiverpoolPremier League211202000251
2000–012725164110497
2001–022241010111355
2002–03210105061331
2003–04203101130254
2004–05100000061161
France League Coupe de France Coupe de la Ligue Europe Total
2005–06BordeauxLigue 12530020--273
2006–073020002070
Czech Republic League Czech Cup League Cup Europe Total
2007–08Slavia PragueGambrinus liga12200--50172
2008–098330--40153
2009–103010--1050
Total Czechoslovakia 21900
Czech Republic 8523242
France 119198313010215024
England 1211010115537318319
Career total 34661717

International goals

Scores and results list the Czech Republic's goal tally first.[13]
#DateOpponentScoreResultCompetition
1.19 June 1996 Russia3–3DrawUEFA Euro 1996
2.18 September 1996 Malta6–0Win1998 FIFA World Cup Qualifier
3.26 August 1997 Slovakia1–2Loss1998 FIFA World Cup Qualifier
4.6 September 1997 Faroe Islands2–0Win1998 FIFA World Cup Qualifier
5.11 October 1997 Slovakia3–0Win1998 FIFA World Cup Qualifier
6.13 December 1997 South Africa2–2Draw1997 FIFA Confederations Cup
7.
8.17 December 1997 United Arab Emirates6–1Win1997 FIFA Confederations Cup
9.
10.
11.25 March 1998 Republic of Ireland2–1WinFriendly
12.22 April 1998 Slovenia3–1WinFriendly
13.21 May 1998 Paraguay1–0WinKirin Cup
14.6 September 1998 Faroe Islands1–0WinUEFA Euro 2000 qualifying
15.10 October 1998 Bosnia and Herzegovina3–1WinUEFA Euro 2000 qualifying
16.31 March 1999 Scotland2–1WinUEFA Euro 2000 qualifying
17.21 June 2000 Denmark2–0WinUEFA Euro 2000
18.
19.13 February 2002 Cyprus4–3WinFriendly
20.18 May 2002 Italy1–0WinFriendly
21.6 September 2002 FR Yugoslavia5–0WinFriendly
22.30 April 2003 Turkey4–0WinFriendly
23.11 June 2003 Moldova5–0WinUEFA Euro 2004 qualifying
24.6 September 2003 Belarus3–1WinUEFA Euro 2004 qualifying
25.19 June 2004 Netherlands3–2WinUEFA Euro 2004
26.4 June 2005 Andorra8–1Win2006 FIFA World Cup Qualifier
27.12 November 2005 Norway1–0Win2006 FIFA World Cup Qualifier

Honours

Club

Slavia Prague

  • Gambrinus liga: 1995–96, 2007–08, 2008–09

Lens

  • Ligue 1: 1997–98
  • Coupe de la Ligue: 1998–99

Liverpool

Bordeaux

  • Coupe de la Ligue: 2006–07

International

Czech Republic

  • UEFA European Football Championship: 1996: Runner-up

References

  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. Archived from the original on 18 January 2005. 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. (in 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. "Smicer ruled out of Czech squad". BBC Sport. 1 June 2006. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  10. "Šmicer named Czech national team manager". USA Today. 10 November 2009. Archived from the original on 25 October 2012.
  11. "Smicer given Czech Republic role". BBC Sport. 10 November 2009. Retrieved 10 November 2009.
  12. Cameron, Rob (13 May 2014). "Euro elections: Footballer Smicer taking on Europe". BBC News. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  13. "Vladimir Smicer - International Appearances". Retrieved 28 February 2015.
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