Pavel Vrba celebrated five years at the FC Viktoria Plzeň helm on Monday by saying he is driven by a desire to establish the club firmly on the European stage.
The 49-year-old will break the Czech First League coaching record of 151 successive games – held jointly with Karel Jarolím and Ladislav Škorpil – when the title holders host strugglers SK Slavia Prague on 19 October. "I have heard the average length of a coach's tenure at a Czech club is 19 league matches," said Vrba.
"I am honoured that I am helping to extend the record. But anniversaries are not that important; what matters are our performances and results in the Champions League and in domestic competition."
Since being appointed on 7 October 2008, Vrba has transformed the Bohemian team's fortunes, guiding them to 2009/10 Czech Cup glory – the first silverware in their history – two league titles (2011 and 2013) and a domestic Super Cup triumph (2011).
Plzeň returned to continental competition in 2010 following an absence of 39 years, going on to rub shoulders with FC Barcelona and AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League group stage the following year. They are back there this season, having reached the UEFA Europa League round of 16 last term, enjoying nights Vrba hopes can become a regular occurrence.
"When players experience matches in the Champions League or Europa League, they want to play in them again [and again]," he said. "It is something extraordinary that we will remember for life. To succeed at this level is the biggest motivation we can have."
Regarding his impact at the Štruncovy Sady Stadión, Vrba said: "It was not only me coming to the club, a group of new players and coaches came with me. We have changed the club's philosophy, vision and working methods, which includes transfer policy. We have set clear aims that we are going after. That is why we have progressed so far.
"Another significant change was our stadium undergoing the necessary reconstruction. It is a fantastic sight to see full stands, not only in our European games but also for league matches. This is a good opportunity to thank them for their support – as I can remember the low attendances Plzeň were getting five years ago."
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