The Football Association of the Czech Republic (ČMFS) has honoured successful former national team coach Karel Brückner, UEFA European Championship-winning goalkeeper Ivo Viktor and Olympic champion defender Rostislav Václavíček.
The trio were awarded this year's Vaclav Jira prize – the highest distinction bestowed by the ČMFS, which is reserved for individuals that have made a significant contribution to the development of Czech football.
Brückner, now 70, coached the national side between 2001 and 2008, leading them to the UEFA EURO 2004 semi-finals. Viktor kept goal for the Czechoslovakia team that won the European title in 1976, and Václavíček took gold with the Czechoslovakian side at the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
Handing out the awards at a ceremony in Prague, ČMFS president Ivan Hašek said: "I am delighted we can pay tribute to their tremendous work. I hope they will continue to carry football in their hearts for a long time to come."
Still an adviser to the ČMFS, Bruckner said the accolade was "a great honour", adding: "It gives me great pleasure and joy to have met fellow coaches and footballers on this occasion – I love being in their company."
Václavíček, who gave long service to club side 1. FC Brno in addition to achieving Olympic glory, said: "Not only did I have the opportunity to play at the highest level, but later I also got to know the game at grassroots level and I know how the amateurs feel." Viktor, meanwhile, has gone on from conquering Europe to coaching the goalkeepers at his old team FK Dukla Praha: "I have experienced a great deal through football and am still in the game today."
The presentation proceedings were attended by several former winners of the Vaclav Jira prize – now in its 17th year – including Josef Masopust, Antonin Panenka and honorary ČMFS president Rudolf Bata.
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