By Nick Carey.
Rumours abound over the future of the captain of the Czech national team and attacking midfielder for Lazio Roma, Pavel Nedved, and whether he will transfer to Manchester United. There's been speculation before that Nedved would play for Manchester United, with transfer fees of up to twenty-one million pounds bandied about in the press.
This time the figure is eighteen million pounds, but there seems to be confusion as to whether the transfer offer exists and if it has been made at all. Nedved's manager, Zdenek Nehoda, reacted sharply to the news, saying that if a transfer were on the cards, then he should know about it. According to Mr. Nehoda, there's been only one concrete offer for Nevded, from Chelsea, for twenty-two million pounds. Nedved's agent in Italy, Mino Raiola, however, says that Lazio and Manchester United will come to an agreement and that Nedved should join the English champions next summer. Lazio has said in the past that Nedved is not for sale, so this could indeed just be another rumour.
Staying with football, and the first Prague derby of the season between Sparta Prague and Slavia Prague took place on Friday. Slavia, down in eighth place, had much more to play for than Sparta, who were ten points at the top before the game.
Unfortunately, it wasn't Slavia's night. The home side started off well, with a goal from Kuka in the twenty-third minute, but then Sparta moved up a gear, replying with strikes from Hasek, Jarousik and Kolousek in the 36th, 77th and 82nd minutes respectively. The 3-1 win leaves Sparta 13 points clear at the top of the Gambrinus League, and Slavia still struggling back in eighth place.
Away from football, and Czech running legend Emil Zatopek, the winner of four Olympic gold medals, who passed away in late November at the age of 78, has been chosen as the Czech sporting personality of the twentieth century. The jury for the awards, which saw javelin-thrower Jan Zelezny given the award of athlete of the century, said Zatopek was undoubtedly the best Czech sportsman of all times, and that it was just a shame that he could not be there to pick up the award in person.
Elsewhere in the sports arena, the Czechs have almost, but not quite, attained glory twice in the past few days. At a World Cup skiing event in Kuopio in Finland on Sunday, Ladislav Rygl of the Czech Republic finished just 1.1 seconds behind Hanu Manninen in the 10-kilometre cross-country event. A close-run race indeed, and Rygl must be experiencing mixed feelings after fighting throughout the 10-kilometre course, to end up just behind Manninen.
It was much the same story in the world of swimming on Friday. In the US Open Swimming Championships in Auburn, Alabama, Honza Vitazka of the Czech Republic ended up second in the 100-metres backstroke, a mere one fifth of a second behind American Andrew Davidson.