Testament to the adage that with age comes wisdom is 37-year-old FC Viktoria Plzeň midfielder Pavel Horváth, blossoming in the twilight of his career in the UEFA Europa League.
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Voted FC Viktoria Plzeň's greatest ever player by the Czech club's supporters, before becoming the oldest ever UEFA Europa League goalscorer, 37-year-old midfielder Pavel Horváth continues to prove that age is no barrier. Intent on impressing again in 2013, UEFA.com explores the secret behind the evergreen playmaker's success.
"He uses his experience to keep cool in every situation and to help the team," said Plzeň coach Pavel Vrba, whose team lead the Czech First League. "His technique is exceptional. That's why he excels, that's what makes him perfect." As for Horváth, capped 19 times by the Czech Republic, he attributes a large chunk of his longevity to good fortune. "I'm very lucky not to have been seriously injured and I've played with some great players," he said.
Horváth's record-breaking, age-defying goal in the 1-1 draw at A. Académica de Coimbra on matchday five sealed Plzeň's place in the UEFA Europa League knockout stages for the second successive season – no mean feat for a side who only regained top-flight status eight years ago. "This season has been a great success," continued Horváth. "We are certainly not a big club but we want to play good football that entertains people."
The next step for Plzeň – Group B winners after beating Club Atlético de Madrid in their final outing – is to go beyond the round of 32, where they face SSC Napoli on 14 and 21 February. With a last-16 tie against FC BATE Borisov or Fenerbahçe SK representing the next possible hurdle, where has Horváth set his sights? "On the final, although we must have some luck along the way!" he said.
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