Smicer Returns with Wife to Take on Germany
LONDON (AP) _ With five stitches in his scalp after a violent clash of heads with an opponent, Czech soccer star Vladimir Smicer needed some help in his preparation for the European Championship final.
He got married.
The 22-year-old forward left his teammates behind this week and flew to Prague to marry Pavlina. He plans to bring her back to Wembley for Sunday’s final.
``A wedding is definitely more difficult than a soccer match,″ Smicer said Friday, after marrying Pavlina at Prague’s Old Town Hall.
``But this is a beautiful year: victory in the national league, semifinals of the UEFA Cup, final of the Euro and the wedding.″
That means the Czech Republic will have a full-strength squad of 22 plus a wife in support Sunday when it takes on a depleted German team that will struggle to field 13 fit players.
Coach Berti Vogts counted his walking wounded and suspended players at Friday’s training session and it came to nine, although three, Steffen Freund, Thomas Helmer and Christian Ziege, might recover in time.
He has made plans for reserve goalkeepers Oliver Kahn and Oliver Reck to play in the field if necessary and said outfield shirts have been made with their names on them.
``We have to be ready for any emergency,″ Vogts said. ``No German team has ever been in such a situation at a major tournament. If we had to play today, Kahn and Reck would be in the lineup.″
Defender Juergen Kohler and midfielder Mario Basler have returned home after suffering injuries at the start of the tournament. Striker Fredi Bobic is back, but only to support the team, with no chance of playing with a dislocated shoulder.
Star forward and captain Juergen Klinsmann has an outside chance of appearing in the final, although he hasn’t practiced for nearly a week after tearing a calf muscle.
``He hasn’t even jogged for six days,″ Vogts said. ``He will have a fitness test Saturday to see if he can run at all.″