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Kadlec dreaming of quarter-final repeat

Miroslav Kadlec was in the Czech Republic team that beat Portugal in the EURO '96 quarter-finals and his son, Michal, told UEFA.com the same result on Thursday would be "a dream".

Kadlec dreaming of quarter-final repeat
Kadlec dreaming of quarter-final repeat ©uefa.com 1998-2012. All rights reserved.

Miroslav Kadlec was a pillar of the Czech Republic defence when they beat Portugal in the quarter-finals en route to finishing runners-up at EURO '96. Sixteen years later, his son, Michal, faces the same challenge as the two nations meet in the last eight in Warsaw.

The team Michal's father played for surprised many in England with few of them known outside their home country. By contrast, Michal Bílek's men feature established household names such as Petr Čech and Tomáš Rosický, but their presence in the last eight is still something of an eye-opener given the rocky road they have followed to get there. An unconvincing qualifying campaign meant the Czechs had to squeeze through a play-off with Montenegro to stamp their ticket for Poland and Ukraine, where they started with their worst-ever defeat at a major tournament.

However, the 4-1 loss to Russia was more than offset by back-to-back victories against Greece and Poland to set up a meeting with Paulo Bento's men. It is an encounter which is likely to be the Czechs' most difficult test yet, but one which also evokes comforting memories, as the younger Kadlec told UEFA.com. "Their group was said to be one of the toughest, even before the tournament began," he said. "So we knew that in the quarter-final, it would not be easy. On the other hand, what is easy in the quarter-finals of the EURO?

"It is a coincidence it is the same fixture as in 1996 with the difference being that we qualified in first place and Portugal in second. But other than that it is similar. Portugal are the favourites and if it ends up like in 1996, it would be a dream. We will do everything for it not to spell the end of the tournament for us."

The Czech squad would already have been at home or sunning themselves on a beach somewhere but for Kadlec, who acrobatically prevented Robert Lewandowski's goalbound effort hitting an unguarded net with just seconds left in their 1-0 win against the co-hosts last Saturday.

The Bayer 04 Leverkusen man's assured display in central defence against Poland, as well as in the 2-1 win against Greece four days previously, contrasted starkly to the rather uncomfortable time he had playing left-back in the opening defeat by Russia.

"It was quite a surprise to appear at left-back. I'm not making excuses, because I played in that position for the whole season with Leverkusen. Now I've played the last two matches at centre-back, so let the coach decide which is better, and I'll play there," said Kadlec, who joined his team-mates in giving public backing to their coach by chanting Bílek's name after they had sealed their last-eight berth at the Municipal Stadium Wroclaw.

"Coach Bílek has had a rough time, so we wanted to express our trust in him that way, and support him a bit, although he has always says he'd rather take it all on himself and not let the players be whistled at. He'd rather people whistle at him, but I think it is not pleasant for anyone, especially as he led us successfully through qualifying and the play-offs. After the first match, you could have whistled at anyone, and I think it was bad to whistle at just some people. So let's hope the whistling will not be repeated anymore."