Pavel Nedvěd (Czech pronunciation: [ˈpavɛl ˈnɛdvjɛt] ( listen); born 30 August 1972 in Cheb) is a retired Czech football midfielder. He is one of the most successful Czech players to emerge from the newly formed Czech Republic, winning numerous accolades with Lazio and Juventus, inlcuding the last ever Cup Winners' Cup. Widely regarded as one of the finest midfielders of the modern era, he was the recipient of the prestigious Ballon d'Or in 2003, only the second Czech player to receive this honour, and the first since the break up of Czechoslovakia. Nedved was also the recipient of the 2nd Golden Foot award in 2004. Nedved was also a key member of the Czech Republic team which reached the final of Euro '96, during which he garnered much international attention. He was also later given the international captaincy. Well known for his energy and tireless runs, as well as his goal scoring ability, Nedved was nicknamed Furia Ceca ("The Czech Fury", an Italian wordplay on the phrase Furia Cieca, meaning "Blind Fury") by Juventus fans.
Nedvěd retired after the 2008–09 season after 19 years as a professional. He played 664 club games, scoring 146 goals, and was capped 91 times for the Czech Republic, scoring 18 times.
Club career Czech Republic
Born in the town of Cheb and raised in the nearby town Skalná, Nedvěd began his football career in his native Czechoslovakia. A football fanatic from a young age, Nedved began playing for his home team, Tatran Skalna, in 1977, aged just 5. He then moved on to Ruda Hvozda Cheb in 1985, playing just one season there, before playing for 5 years with Skoda Plzen. In 1990, Nedved arrived in Prague, his nation's capital. Nedved initially signed for Dukla Prague, but played only one season with the outfit before being snapped up by the more prestigious Sparta Prague. With Sparta, Nedved won one Czechoslovak first league and two Gambrinus liga titles, as well as one Czech Republic Football Cup. Nedved's performances at Euro 1996, including a goal in the group stage match against Italy, gained him some notoriety; despite apparently having a verbal agreement with PSV, Nedved made the move from Sparta Prague to Serie A outfit Lazio in 1996.
Nedved played his first game for Lazio against Bologna on 7 September 1996. Nedved rapidly became an integral part of the Lazio side, helping them to the 1997–98 Coppa Italia, and also to the last ever international Cup Winners' Cup 1999. Nedved played a vital role in the campaign and also managed to score the last ever goal of the tournament, which was abolished the next year. In the final against RCD Mallorca, Nedved scored in the 81st minute, securing a 2–1 win for Lazio. Lazio went on to win the Serie A title, as well as two Supercoppa Italianas with Nedved in the team, and also finished runner-up in the 1997-98 UEFA Cup. Nedved played 204 games for the club overall, scoring 54 times.
Having spent 5 seasons with Lazio, Nedved moved to Juventus in 2001 for a fee of €41 million as a replacement for Zinedine Zidane, who had transferred to Spain's Real Madrid the same summer. He proved to be one of the few midfielders capable of assuming the playmaking role of his French predecessor. Nedvěd played frequently in Juventus' Scudetto-winning teams of 2001–02 and 2002–03.
Nedvěd was instrumental in leading Juventus into the 2003 Champions League final against Milan, but he was forced to sit out the final because of accumulation of yellow cards, after being booked in the semi-final for tackling Real Madrid midfielder Steve McManaman. At the end of the year, he won the European Footballer of the Year award.Following the 2005–06 season, and Juventus's relegation from Serie A due to the Calciopoli scandal, Nedvěd's future as a Juventus player was heavily discussed. After the World Cup, he dispelled those rumors by restating his desire to help Juventus regain promotion to the Serie A. However, the season was somewhat tumultuous for the Czech international. With only a one-year contract, he hinted he might retire from football altogether at the end of the season. He repeated this threat after a 5-game ban stemming from a red card on 1 December. Nevertheless, he remained with the club until the end of the season. Together fellow veterans David Trézéguet and captain Alessandro Del Piero, the three of them scored 47 of the 83 goals Juve scored in Serie B as they won promotion at the first time of asking.
During the 2007–08 season, Nedvěd played frequently for the Bianconeri, providing contributions while being Juve's first-choice left winger. However, he has not been free from controversy. Nedvěd came under negative spotlight recently for his tackle on Internazionale midfielder Luís Figo, which resulted in a broken fibula for the Portuguese player.
Nedvěd had a fair season during Juve's return, but only scored twice. During Serie A 2007–08, Nedvěd acquired a slight concussion that kept him off of the pitch for about a month. He was linked with a move to Japanese side Jubilo Iwata during the 2008–09 summer transfer window, but the rumours were quickly scotched when he committed his future to Juventus for another year after signing a new one year contract extension which would secure his services until June 2009.
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