The group stages are over and it’s time to get down to business. Knock-out football takes no prisoners and the big boys are getting ready to battle it out for the one piece of silverware that means everything – the European crown.
A dark horse in the tournament so far, the Czech Republic have quietly gone about building a solid foundation to have a real impact on the tournament. Portugal (and a certain you know who) await in the quarter-finals and the Czechs will be looking to emulate their famous 1-0 quarter-final victory over the Portuguese from Euro 96.
No player has been a bigger driving force behind the Czech Republic’s footballing philosophy and style of play than skipper and midfield maestro Tomáš Rosický. We caught up with the PUMA playmaker to get his thoughts on all things football. Here’s what was on his mind.
Q: Your season this year at Arsenal has been strong and you recently extended your contract for another two seasons. Do you enjoy playing in London?
Yeah, I really like it, I love Arsenal I think it is a great club. We try to play good football and that’s what I like to play. I feel very comfortable there.
Q: How are you feeling about the European Championships?
I think it’s very exciting. Everybody is enjoying it and so I am obviously; I missed the last Euros because I was injured for a very long time so it’s an extra motivation for me.
Q: The Czech Republic has been drawn into a good group and some would say a rather easy group. How do you rate the other teams; Greece, Russia and Poland?
You cannot say that it’s an easy group, because Russia won their group, Greece won their group and we are the only ones that came from the playoff games, of course plus Poland as they are the hosts, so it will be a proper away game for us and I think all the teams here have a good chance to qualify. I don’t think it’s a weak group, it will be very even and it could be decided on the last game.
Q: The Czech Republic has a solid history with the European Championship, never failing to qualify since their independence. Do you think the team will be in similar form to 1996 and make it to the finals?
That would be great, but the team is very different and as I said I feel we are strong enough to qualify for the next stages and after that anything can happen.
Q: Do you have any particular superstitions when preparing for a match?
Not really, I don’t have anything special; well I have just one small thing which I will not tell you!
Q: You wear the PUMA PowerCat 1.12 boot, what’s so good about the boot?
It’s very comfortable, I like the leather. I need a comfortable boot and this one suits me very well.
There you have it people. Now, we’ve given you a brief glance into the mind of Tomáš Rosický. But what if you could explore his dreams? What if you could discover the childhood memories that shaped the player we see gracing the pitch today? With the PUMA Dreamcatcher you can. Take a trip through the dreams of Tomáš Rosický and you could win Puma boots signed by the man himself.