Czech Republic defender Kadlec follows his father

Czech Republic defender Kadlec follows his father

Published Jun. 5, 2012 5:38 p.m. ET

Czech Republic defender Michal Kadlec doesn't have to look very far to find a role model.

His father, Miroslav Kadlec, captained the Czech Republic to a surprise runner-up place at the 1996 European Championship. In the semifinals, the central defender scored the decisive penalty in a shootout that sent the Czechs to the final against Germany.

The elder Kadlec played in the Bundesliga for Kaiserslautern, and his son followed him to the German league with Bayer Leverkusen.

Michal Kadlec plays at left back for his club. But in the national team, coach Michal Bilek tends to play him at center back, his father's old position.


Before the team's Group A opener against Russia at Euro 2012 on Friday, Kadlec said he wants ''to be on the field no matter where.

''It's important for me to be trusted by the coach,'' he said.

Kadlec still has a long way to go to match his father's results at major international tournaments or club level. Besides appearances at the Euro '96 final and a 1990 World Cup quarterfinal, Miroslav won the Bundesliga title twice and added the German Cup trophy.

But the 27-year Michal has achieved something his father can't beat.

He established himself as a reliable scorer and was the most prolific of all Czechs in Euro qualifying with four goals in what is quite a result for a defender. He has already scored eight goals in 34 internationals while his dad managed to find the back of the net just twice in 64 matches.

''It's great to score,'' Kadlec said. ''It feels good, but the team's success is much more important. It doesn't matter who scores.''

Kadlec has worn a protective face mask for nearly five weeks, after an attack by two fans of Bundesliga rival Cologne in April left him with a broken nose. He can take the mask off just before the match against Russia.

''I will still train with the mask to be safe than sorry,'' Kadlec said at the training base of the team in Wroclaw. ''I want to play without it. That's much better for me. I have to talk to the Czech doctors and consult the doctors in Germany and hope to get a green light. Sometimes, it's difficult to breathe with it''

Goalkeeper Petr Cech also had to wear a protective mask in addition to his normal head guard in the Euro 2012 playoffs against Montenegro in November, after breaking his nose while playing for Chelsea.

''I was glad when I got rid of it,'' Cech said Tuesday. ''I didn't have problems with it but I looked a bit funny.''

The Czechs also play 2004 champion Greece and Poland in Group A.