The Czech Republic have elected to travel to and from UEFA EURO 2012 by train, hoping to emulate the triumphant journey enjoyed by Czechoslovakia after the 1934 FIFA World Cup.
"We are going back to the old tradition," said Football Association of the Czech Republic (FAČR) president Miroslav Pelta. "The Czechoslovakia team travelled to the World Cup in Italy by train in 1934 and brought back silver medals."
When Czechoslovakia set off for Rome from Prague's Wilson Station on 21 May 1934, there was no official send-off, with only a few reporters turning up to wave them away. However, their return trip, following a 2-1 extra-time defeat by Italy in the final, was the stuff of legend.
Silver medals in hand, goalkeeper František Plánička, striker Antonín Puč, the tournament's five-goal top scorer Oldřich Nejedlý and their team-mates came home to a rapturous welcome on 12 June. En route, they had stopped in Ceska Kubice, Nyrany, Plzen, Rokycany and Beroun, being greeted by civic receptions – and treated to no small amount of local beer – at every station.
Michal Bílek's side will hope for a similar experience. They will set off from Wilson Station to Wroclaw in Poland, their UEFA EURO 2012 base, on 3 June. Since the journey is less than 300km, the Czech national railway company and the national ministry of transport have agreed to lay on a special five-carriage train, allowing the squad to travel in style. "We preferred the train to our team bus," Bílek said. "It will be more comfortable and, considering the distance, it is an ideal solution."
Czech Railways will also provide, for supporters, six trains to Poland for each of the national team's games at the finals, which will leave from Prague and Brno.
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