Tomáš Rosický has paid tribute to the two veterans of the Czech Republic's EURO '96™ team who have been pivotal figures in the Czechs' push to the UEFA EURO 2004™ semi-finals.
Speaking to euro2004.com, Rosický said his fellow midfield players Pavel Nedved and Karel Poborský were making all their experience count here in Portugal as the Czechs looked to go one better than in 1996 where they finished runners-up to Germany. Both men created a goal for Milan Baroš as the Czechs reached the semi-finals last night by beating Denmark 3-0.
'Best in Europe'
"It is great to play with these players - they are both very experienced," said Rosický, who is the front prong in the Czech midfield, flanked by Poborský and Nedved, with Tomáš Galásek stationed behind. "Poborský was at Manchester [United FC], [SL] Benfica, [S.S.] Lazio and is a very experienced player, Pavel is the best footballer in Europe, so you must learn from them of course and I am enjoying it."
Poborský is now 32 while Nedved and Vladimír Šmicer - the other survivor of the 1996 team who scored the winning goal against the Netherlands - are 31. Although still 23, Rosický himself is one of seven players in the squad who were at UEFA EURO 2000™ and he is enjoying the extra responsibility in a group packed with recent graduates from the Czech Under-21 side.
The BV Borussia Dortmund player said: "I am not so young as I was in 2000 and all the expectations on me are higher right now but this is good, I am enjoying it." He is not the only one - the mood in the Czech camp near Sintra is good and after four straight wins, they believe they can go all the way.
"I think we have a very good team spirit and in football this is very important," Rosický said. "When you are in the semi-finals you must think there are no limits. We want to win the tournament. But we know that Greece are very tough opponents - they beat France and Portugal and it will be a much different game from against Denmark."
Rosický knows it will not be easy against a well-disciplined Greece side and cites the influence of their German coach, Otto Rehhagel. The teams drew 0-0 in Greece in 2002 - one of three times they have failed to score in coach Karel Brückner's 28 games in charge. "The German influence is clear in their play, they make almost no mistakes," he warned. "I think we will put their goal under siege but we must beware their speedy breaks."
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