Jaroslav Plasil on the ball for AS Monaco

Euro Stars: Jaroslav Plasil (Czech Republic)

Euro Stars: Jaroslav Plasil (Czech Republic)

Publish on 05/31 at 02:00 - E. DEVIN


Here's the latest from our series celebrating the 2024 European Championships, we’ll focus on a player from each of the 24 countries participating (except for France). These legends have achieved success with their countries and in Ligue 1, and have helped to make the game in France what it is today: exciting, fast-paced and cosmopolitan.

The history of Czech players in Ligue 1 Uber Eats has been impressive indeed. Petr Cech, long a legendary figure with Chelsea, broke into Europe’s top leagues with Stade Rennais, while Vladímir Šmicer was integral to Racing Club de Lens winning the title 25 years ago, before helping Liverpool to Champions League glory. More recently, David Rozenhal was a key element of LOSC Lille winning the double in 2011, while Tomás Koubek was in goal for Stade Rennais in their most recent Coupe de France triumph.

But these successful runs pale in comparison to the achievements of one player from the country whose biggest triumph in world football remains their unlikely 1976 European title: Jaroslav Plasil. The guileful midfielder played a massive role in successful spells for two of France’s biggest clubs, and while his haul of trophies may seem somewhat lacking, he remains one of only four foreign-born players to make 400 appearances in France’s top flight.

Arriving at AS Monaco at the age of 18, following two fruitless seasons, he would join Creteil on loan in the second division, before returning to the Principality side in 2003-4. Playing a key role in their run to the Champions League final, he was instrumental as the team beat Real Madrid and Chelsea, his versatility adding balance to Didier Deschamps’ midfield.

Following an uneven 2006/7 season which saw the Principality side struggle against relegation, he moved to Spain, joining Osasuna for two seasons. A return to France wasn’t long in coming, though, and he joined Girondins de Bordeaux on the back of Laurent Blanc’s having steered the team to an unlikely Ligue 1 title.

Plasil was honest about having sought to play at a higher level in Spain, but Bordeaux’s ambitious project and his being welcomed as a key player made the the difference, as he recalled in 2019, “I think I was lucky enough to come across a coach who wanted me. Afterwards it was pretty easy to fit in because there were super guys who were doing their best to get new players to welcome us.”

While a repeat of that success wasn’t to be, he would appear more than 350 times for Les Girondins in all competitions, helping them win the Coupe de France in 2012/13 and play regularly in Europe. He would retire in 2019, and spend several seasons with the club as an assistant manager, unfortunately unable to help them avoid relegation in 2022 as the team finished bottom. Despite a frustrating end to his time in France, he remains an undisputed great for club and country.

With the Czech Republic, Plasil is one of only three outfield players to have reached a century of caps, and played in four European Championships, even helping them reach the semifinals in 2004. As his country return to the tournament this summer, Plasil remains a player whose solidity and professional approach to the game make him a true legend in France and his homeland.

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