) (June 2
– July 20
) was a Czech football goalkeeper
and one of the most honoured players in the history of Czechoslovakian
football. He played the majority of his career for Slavia Prague
, during which time the club won the Czech league
eight times and the Mitropa Cup
once. He also became a member of the Czechoslovakia national team
and later its captain
during the World Cup
competitions in 1934
(where the team finished second) and 1938
Plánička was a courageous player, to the extent that in Czechoslovakia's 1938 World Cup match against Brazil, he remained on the field despite having suffered a serious injury. He was a goalkeeper of outstanding reflexes and shot-stopping abilities and was also characterized by his sportsmanship, never once being cautioned or sent off in his career. In 1985, he was awarded the UNESCO International Fair Play Award and the Czech Fair Play Award in 1994.
In 1999, the IFFHS elected him the best Czech goalkeeper – and ninth best overall – of the twentieth century. In 2003, he was catalogued as the greatest goalkeeper of his era.
Born in Prague
, Plánička played most of his footballing career and lived most of his life in the Czech capital. In the beginning of his career, Plánička played for the clubs Slovan Praha VII
, Union VII
, Staroměstský SK Olympia
, and SK Bubeneč
. He played for Slavia Prague
from 1923 to 1939, in what has been one of the most successful eras in the club's history. He appeared in 969 matches of which he was captain in 742. Although he was of below-average height for a goalkeeper, at 1.72m (5 ft 8 in), he was an effective shot stopper, and his acrobatic style earned him the nickname The Cat of Prague
Plánička won his first league title in 1925, which was the club's first professional league championship ever. Slavia then won three consecutive titles from 1929 to 1931.
In 1932, Slavia reached the semifinals of the Mitropa Cup. In the first leg, they beat Juventus FC 4-0; in the second leg, Juventus had a 2-0 lead after which, according to RSSSF, Slavia resorted to obstruction and time wasting, which extended to the stands to the point that spectators started throwing stones on the pitch; one of the projectiles hit Plánička, causing him a serious injury. Slavia abandoned the pitch and the game stopped, and this led to their disqualification from the tournament.
Slavia had another streak of three leagues won from 1933 to 1935, and won again 1937, with Plánička still between the goalposts.
Plánička also won six Bohemia cups (a domestic tournament) with Slavia, in 1926, 1927, 1928, 1930, 1932, and 1935. His only international title came in 1938, when his club finally won the Mitropa Cup.
Between 1926 and 1938, Plánička played 73 times in goal for Czechoslovakia
, a record that stood until 1966 when Ladislav Novák
earned his 74th cap
. Plánička was the national team captain 37 times. His international debut was on January 17
in a 1-3 loss against Italy
1934 World Cup
He helped the Czech team qualify to the 1934 World Cup
, and was the captain in the finals. After Czechoslovakia beat Romania
, and Germany
, they played the final against hosts Italy, who also had one of the great goalkeepers of the time, Giampiero Combi
, as its captain. The Czechs took the lead in the second half, but Raimundo Orsi
's shot beat Plánička for the equalizer, sending the match to extra time, and then a goal by Angelo Schiavio
gave the Italians the victory.
1938 World Cup
Plánička captained the Czechs again to the 1938 World Cup
, where they beat the Netherlands
3-0 in the first match, with all three goals in extra time. In the second round, they faced Brazil
on July 12
, in what was one of the most violent matches in World Cup history, known as the "Battle of Bordeaux
." One Czech and two Brazilian playes were sent off, and players from both teams suffered serious injuries. With the game tied 1-1, Plánička's teammate Oldřich Nejedlý
had to abandon the pitch with a broken leg, and then Plánička himself suffered a broken arm, after colliding with Brazil's striker Perácio
's kick, as the Brazilian attempted to shoot. Plánička did not leave the pitch, however, and instead played through the pain until the end of regulation and through the subsequent extra time, which had no change in the score. The game was replayed two days later, and Czechoslovakia, without Plánička or forwards
Nejedlý and Antonín Puč
, lost 2-1 and was eliminated.
Plánička received one goal in 240 minutes played, having the lowest goals against average with 0.38 goals per 90 minutes. He was selected to the Best XI of the tournament by a group of journalists.
The match against Brazil in Bordeaux was the last of Plánička's international caps.
Plánička died in 1996 in Prague. At the time of his death, Plánička was the last living member of the Czech squad at the 1934 World Cup
. Czech national team midfielder Karel Poborský
attended his burial, postponing his contract signing with Manchester United
, which was scheduled to happen the same day.
- Czech league winner: 1925, 1928-29, 1929-30, 1930-31, 1932-33, 1933-34, 1934-35, 1936-37
- Mitropa Cup winner: 1932
- Bohemia Cup winner: 1926, 1927, 1928, 1930, 1932, 1935
- FIFA World Cup runner-up: 1934
- UNESCO International Fair Play Award: 1985
- Czech Fair Play Award: 1994.
References and notes