“He realised the best thing was to go”: Coach quits moments after Czechs reach Euros

Jaroslav Šilhavý (left)

The Czech national soccer squad secured qualification for next year’s European Championship on Monday with a 3:0 win over Moldova. However, the celebrations were rather dampened when coach Jaroslav Šilhavý announced live on television that he was stepping down.

While still on the pitch after Monday evening’s game, the Czech football team coach Jaroslav Šilhavý said live on TV that he and his staff were quitting.

The 62-year-old said the pressure on him had been enormous – and sometimes beyond his comprehension.

The news rather took the sheen off what had been a successful night for the Czechs. They needed to secure at least one point against Moldova in their last Euro 2024 qualifying game but took all three, with a 3:0 win in Olomouc.

Tomáš Chorý made an impact in his international debut, assisting the opening goal by David Douděra before finding the net himself against Moldova, who had a player sent off. Captain Tomáš Souček sealed victory with the third.

But it was Šilhavý’s move, just days after he sent three players home for going to a nightclub, that made just as many headlines.

Football journalist Luděk Mádl says there was a significant chance the Czech FA would have decided to let him go at a meeting on Tuesday – and he likely jumped before he was pushed.

“Though he did manage to secure qualification to the Euros, I think that he got in there first, avoiding that rather humiliating possibility. He realised that the mood was very complicated and that the best thing for him to do was to go, as a trainer who had fulfilled his main mission by qualifying for the Euros. He left with his head held high, and nothing to be ashamed of.”

Indeed, Šilhavý had been on thin ice already. After poor results last month – most notably a defeat to eventual group winners Albania – the Czech FA had revised his contract so it ended on November 30.

Luděk Mádl points out that in Šilhavý’s five-year period as coach the Czechs missed out on the World Cup but twice reached the Euros, where in 2020 it was a “minor miracle” that they got into the quarter-finals.

But since then standards on the field have fallen, says the journalist.

“The Czechs ceased to be competitive against, let’s say, the top teams. In the first Euro qualification they even beat England, but in the current campaign they lost 3:0 in Albania. In the recent phase, the standards of the Czech team declined, or stagnated. I think that the coach didn’t have much left to offer the team; the relationship between the coach and the players had become exhausted.”

Attention is now already turning to who will lead the Czechs when they line up at the European Championship in Germany next summer.