Nedved retires from international football weeks before 34th birthday

Pavel Nedved, photo: CTK

Pavel Nedved - the greatest Czech player of his generation - has announced his retirement from international football. Speaking ahead of his last game for the Czech Republic on Wednesday, Nedved said he wanted to spend more time with his family - and wouldn't be up to international speed playing in Italy's Serie B with Juventus. He also said he plans to retire in a year's time, if Juve are promoted.

Pavel Nedved,  photo: CTK
Pavel Nedved's last game for the Czech Republic is a friendly against Serbia on Wednesday evening. It will be his 91st cap.

He was part of the Czech "silver" team which reached the final of the 1996 European Championships. Later, as an inspirational captain, he led the Czechs to the semi-finals at Portugal 2004.

But now he says it's time to hang up his international boots. A tired looking Pavel Nedved thanked his teammates for all his great years with the Czech team on Tuesday, before outlining his reasons for quitting.

"The first thing is my age. Secondly, I decided to stay at Juventus, who as you know have been demoted to the Italian second division. Playing in Serie B it'd be very hard for me to motivate myself and prepare for games at the highest level. I wouldn't like to end my international career badly."

Pavel Nedved - who has been playing in Italy for a decade now - also said he wanted to spend more time with his wife Ivana and two children, also called Pavel and Ivana.

Pavel Nedved,  photo: CTK
"As for my family, I owe them a lot, both my wife and my children. They've sacrificed everything for me and I thought more about football than about them. My wife influenced my decision to retire, as did my children, who are older now. I'll have more time for them, because I'll only be playing once a week with Juventus now."

Nedved is 34 years old in two weeks' time and is already thinking about the day when he quits football for good.

"I've been thinking about playing for one year more - at least I hope it only takes Juventus one year to get back to the Italian first division. Winning promotion would mean the end of all my motivation, and would be a nice way to finish. After that - who knows? Us footballers retire at 35 and that's not easy. We have to start again, maybe in a completely different place, a completely different life."

After Josef Masopust, Pavel Nedved is only the second Czech ever to be named European Player of the Year.