Football is a very beautiful game. It is the only thing in this world which guys will fancy over the ravishing beauty of a woman. Or the expenses of tech gadgets and the sleepless hours of playing action games! Tomas Rosicky was like the prophet inducted by the lord flying spaghetti monster to prove and show others how this game can play with a touch of beauty, art & symphony. Today, celebrating his 38th birthday, let’s have a quick look back at his phenomenal career!
It might surprise many people that it was not Arsenal, the first English club who tried to capture him. Chelsea tried to sign Rosicky in January 2004 but could not agree on a fee with Dortmund (Thanks, Roman!). In a 2006 interview Rosicky expressed his joy over this, Rosicky said, “Now I am happy they didn’t sell me there.” He had a keen understanding of Arsenal-Chelsea relations by then. Which followed an intense period and further escalated to Arsene – Mourinho rivalry. Rosicky dropped strong interests from Atletico Madrid and few other Italian clubs to sign for Arsenal. That too when his older brother played for Atletico in the 90’s. Unfortunate that his career was also stunted by injuries. He cited the style of play as a major factor and admired the philosophy of the club. His exact quote was – “In these times there are not many clubs who play football like this”. Could it be any better? A man loving the club, philosophy of the manager, and preferring the play of style. He opted this path over the glamorous and money side of Football.
Almost 12 years ago we signed him from Borussia Dortmund. Most of the fans would remember his 30-yard screamer against the USA during 2006 FIFA World Cup. Already established himself as a world-class footballer, the expectations on him were high. He was a hot prospect for the Czech Republic and Borussia Dortmund by then. He also played a key role for the Die Schwarzgelben in winning Bundesliga. The initial spotlight for him at Arsenal was scoring a stunning goal in his first UCL appearance. I (A little idiot in his early teenage) was like “Who the hell is this hairy guy?” “Robert Pires reincarnated?” Then later he scored 2 goals in 8 minutes at Anfield in an FA cup match, that too against a strong Liverpool side, which made me feel like “Whaah this guy is gonna be our Zidane”, or “The heir to Dennis Bergkamp?”. The curly sublime strike and a squeezed shot from the edge of the box made the fans go ecstatic. I cannot recollect any other player who has scored such a solo designed and crafted goals. It helped him to establish themselves as the fan favourite of such a huge fan base in a short span of time. Who would forget that 2-1 win against Manutd with a late Henry goal? it was from Rosicky’s cross RVP slide in the ball and equalized in the 83rd minute. A late goal by him against Wigan in February 2007 fired Arsenal back into top 4. He scored a crucial goal against Bolton in April 2007. The 28 goals he scored for the club, most of them came at very crucial stages & unique in its own way.
There was always a sure shot to win the hearts of Gooners: To score against Tottenham. With his repeated and consistent derby heroics, Rosicky set himself as a part of Gunners folk tales. No Arsenal fan can ever forget that searing strike into the far top corner during a match at White Hart Lane, the goal which sealed off a crucial win. His goal in the 5-2 victory of February 2012, Arsenal were trailing at one stage, then equalized, he then scored the third goal at a very crucial time. It was a pivotal moment for both the player and the club. It fired Rosicky’s return to competitive level, and it played a vital role in taking Arsenal further ahead to overtake Spurs and to finish in the top four. The way he tricked Danny Rose and took a sprint away from him to score a goal at Emirates was a reminiscence of Rosicky at his best during his days in Germany.
Rosicky was always an exceptional player. He made the game played with a lot of tactics and strategies look all so easy. Every time when he picked up the ball some magic was bound to happen. An accelerated run up the pitch, twist & turns to riddle the defenders, that little cuts inwards & outwards the box. Finally, a showdown with that cute celebration. Thus he earned the title – “The little Mozart”. Those were the times when you get grilled by rival fans for being trophyless. But you don’t give a damn about it because of the beautiful football orchestrated by Arsene Wenger. Also, we saw players playing with utmost passion, the trails left by the greatest team in the EPL era – “The Invincibles”, was visible here.
It’s depressing for any lover of the game to see that injuries curtailed his career. He could have been an all-time great for the Gunners. Rosicky was one of my favourite players when growing up. Also, he was the type of player any footballer would love to have been. If in doubt, ask Nuri Sahin or Marco Reus.
Only a few people know Rosicky’s love of Ice Hockey. During the winter shutdowns at Dortmund, he used to play Ice Hockey with close friends in the Czech Republic. (I am sure Arsene Wenger might have given him strict warnings on this after joining him!) The quickness of thought and pass along with the agility in the football pitch made him a good Ice Hockey player as well. Swiftness and precision are some of the features of Ice Hockey. No surprise why he fell in love with Arsenal’s style of play. Indeed, a player made for Arsene Wenger’s philosophy. In his own words:
“It will always be a frustration [he didn’t play more games] because first of all Tomas was an exceptional talent, I personally, like we all do here, love the player. The standing ovation he gets every time he walks out there tells you a lot. We love the man as well, and his attitude, and his exceptional class and qualities. It’s sad [that he’s leaving] but I must say, for me, it was a privilege to manage him. He makes it look very easy when he’s playing. He has a quality – when the ball comes to him the game becomes a bit quicker, more incisive, more mobile. He had all the football qualities to play the game we love to play here, and I would say Tomas Rosicky was the perfect player for Arsenal Football Club.”
Arsenal fans always used to express their anger on players like Nasri, RVP, and Fabregas. But when the latter two joined Rosicky for his testimonial match this June, we could see fans crying of fond memories when they used to play together. This is one such example why we cannot quantify the love towards Rosicky. This love transcends all the collective hate we have towards some of our ex-players. If in doubt, remove Rosicky from the piece and see the reaction.
For any Czechian and for any BVB fan he is a legend. He might not be a legendary figure for Arsenal, but for us, Rosicky is more than a legend! When the team got flooded with a crop of impure players he was the only pure heart & soul who was a relief for us. Sometimes being a legend is an overrated reference, but being a soul and heart of the club is what matters the most. He will be special for all the Gooners and will have a place in their heart forever. We can’t thank enough for those magical memories.
I wrote this from a Toshiba Laptop which only saw one Wallpaper (The same image featured in the article) in last 4 years – Rosicky holding our 2014 FA Cup Trophy. Not even a single thought troubled me, which had influenced me to change it over these years, and I am not going to change it as well
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