Pavel Nedvěd, 37 next month, raises possibility of second comeback to international football

Pavel Nedvěd, photo: CTK

Pavel Nedvěd has just picked up the Golden Ball award for Czech footballer of the season, a prize decided by sports journalists. The 2008-2009 season was Nedvěd’s last: he retired after his final game for Juventus in May. But has he really hung up his boots? The veteran midfielder says he is still mulling over his future – and even hinted on Thursday that he could play for the Czech national team again.

Pavel Nedvěd,  photo: CTK
Pavel Nedvěd announced early this year that he was quitting soccer at the end of the season, after a hugely successful career that saw him become only the second Czech ever to be named European player of the year.

Not long after he played his final game for Juventus in May, the midfielder was reported to have been offered – and turned down – short term deals with clubs such as Inter Milan and Lazio (where he started his career in Italy).

However, speculation has continued that Nedvěd, who turns 37 on August 30, will play again. Just last weekend, he said he was certain he had made his last appearance in Europe, leaving open the possibility that he could join a Major League Soccer Club in the US, or perhaps increase his pension fund somewhere like the United Arab Emirates.

More surprisingly, accepting the sixth Golden Ball award of his career on Thursday, Pavel Nedvěd would not rule out a return to the Czech international team. He has evidently been swayed by the appointment of Ivan Hašek as chairman of the Czech football association and coach of the national squad.

“You all know I had a meeting with Ivan Hašek…I promised him that I would think about it. Of course if I continue with any team we will talk and consider all the possibilities. I think if I did continue with some team, the chance of me playing for the national team would be a lot higher.”

Ivan Hašek,  photo: CTK
Nedvěd has already retired from international soccer twice. The first time came after Euro 2004, when an injury he sustained early in the semis was viewed as having cost the Czechs a berth in the final.

In late 2005 he returned to the national squad in order to help the Czechs reach the following year’s World Cup in Germany. However, they were knocked out in the group stage and Nedvěd quit the international game for the second time in August 2006. He had made a total of 91 appearances for the Czech Republic, scoring 18 goals.

How likely it is he will add to that caps tally should become clear in the near future. Pavel Nedvěd said on Thursday that he will reach a decision by the middle of August; it would be too late after that date to get fit and adapt to new team-mates in time for the new season, he said.