A star-studded cast turned out to give Marek Jankulovski a memorable send-off, as the former Czech Republic defender said his goodbyes at a farewell match in Ostrava on Saturday.
Former team-mates Gennaro Gattuso, Giuseppe Favalli, Luca Antonini, Petr Čech, Tomáš Rosický, Jaroslav Plašil, Tomáš Hübschman and Vladimir Šmicer all played in front of a 20,000 strong crowd as a Jankulovski select XI took on the Czech Republic UEFA EURO 2004 side that reached the semi-finals in Portugal.
The ex-FC Baník Ostrava, SSC Napoli, Udinese Calcio and AC Milan full-back was full of emotion on the occasion. "I cannot find words. I did not expect this and I would like to thank to all fans who came and to those who organised it. It was simply fabulous, I felt like crying," he told media.
The match ended in a 4-4 draw as the 2007 UEFA Champions League winner played for both sides and scored a free-kick, before being substituted for his 15-year-old nephew Dragan, currently a member of the Baník Ostrava youth ranks.
"I did not hesitate for a second before accepting the invitation," said former Milan team-mate Gattuso. "I have gone through a lot of joyful moments with Marek, he was a great player and team-mate, we were close friends during these long years. It was an emotional evening for me."
Jankulovski played his last regular match in October 2011 for Baník Ostrava against FC Hradec Králové, before announcing his retirement in February 2012 at the age of 34 following a knee ligament injury, and has been a pundit on Czech television since.
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