Kadlecs keep it in the family

Sixteen years after his father, Miroslav, helped the Czech Republic reach the final of EURO '96, Michal Kadlec is hoping to continue the family tradition of success in Poland and Ukraine.

The father, Miroslav, wore the captain's armband as he led the Czech Republic to the final of EURO '96. The son, Michal, is experiencing a similar thrill 16 years later, and the 27-year-old defender will add another glorious chapter to the Kadlec family history if he can help his country defeat co-hosts Poland on Saturday.

"I think Michal has more pace than me, but I had a better touch," Miroslav Kadlec told me at the Czech House in Wroclaw. "You cannot compare football today with the times when my dad played at all," smiled Michal when I told him about his father's comment.

Michal Kadlec (Czech Republic) & Alan Dzagoev (Russia) Michal Kadlec has followed in the footsteps of his father, Miroslav©Getty ImagesBut if there is a gene for holding your nerves when taking penalties, then it was clearly passed on in the Kadlec family. Miroslav converted one of the spot kicks in the Czechs' successful semi-final shoot-out with France in 1996, while Michal scored four goals in qualifying, including a vital late penalty in Scotland. "Not many players would have dared take that one," his father told me. "For me, it's a great honour to watch him at this level. I am a proud father."

Miroslav was not only watching the game against Greece, he worked as a pundit for German TV. "I had a much better game than against Russia," Michal said. "I phoned my dad and told him he should commentate on my games more often as he brings me luck."

Miroslav certainly saw an improved performance from his son compared to the display he produced in the opening defeat by Russia. Michal struggled at left-back in the 4-1 reverse, but restored to the centre of defence, where he had played much of qualifying, the Bayer 04 Leverkusen defender looked far more assured, and even topped the Castrol EDGE Index with a score of 9.24.

"I had a better feeling, but our two goals in the first six minutes helped the whole team a lot, we gained confidence; hopefully we will also make such a good start against Poland," said Michal, who may not be the last Kadlec to wear the Czech shirt. "I do not have a son yet, but maybe one day. It would be a great thing to continue the family tradition of playing for the national team."