Czech Republic captain Pavel Nedved said he felt an "enormous helplessness" when his knee injury brought a tearful end to a UEFA EURO 2004™ campaign which had promised so much.
The 31-year-old was substituted in the 40th minute of last night's semi-final defeat by Greece after damaging his knee while challenging Konstantinos Katsouranis in the Greek penalty area. "I tried to kick the ball but struck my opponent's knee," said Nedved. "I knew immediately that the game was over for me. It leaves you feeling that you can't do anything to help the team."
The Juventus FC midfield player was suspended for the 2002/03 UEFA Champions League final and was desperate to atone by helping the Czechs into Sunday's final in Lisbon. "Missing out this time is much worse," said Nedved, who tried to play on after treatment. "He would have played on even if he'd broken his leg," said Czech physiotherapist Eduard Poustka.
Nedved, who wore an ice pack on his knee, cheered on his team-mates from the bench, taking time to encourage each player during the break before extra time. He called Traianos Dellas's winning header "probably the worst moment of my life", adding: "It will take a long time to come to terms with. Yet this is the best team I've ever played in. We have a real team spirit."
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