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Tomáš Černý Q&A

May 13, 2019 5:00 pm Author: Malcolm Panton (Red Matchday Editor)

 

Tomas early this season spoke to the Red Matchday editor about his career:

1 Favourite game?

One would have to be the European U19 Championship game in 2003 when I was playing for the Czech Republic and we played England. It was the last game of the group and we had to win by three goals to give ourselves a chance of getting to the semi-finals – and we won 3-0! My cleansheet was the difference between us qualifying and going home. England had the likes of Liam Ridgewell, Wayne Routledge and Stewart Downing in their side, so that was fairly special.

We lost narrowly 1-0 to Italy in the semis so we got a bronze medal. Giampaolo Pazzini scored the only goal of the game – he went to make 25 appearances for the Italian national side. They beat Portugal in the final.

More recently, it was obviously really nice for me to make my debut for Aberdeen. I was not happy Joe Lewis hit his head on the post but it was good for me to play for the first team. We managed to win the game as well, so I was very pleased.

It had been a long time since I’d played in the first team so it’s not easy to come in and play. But I think I did well and winning made the debut very special for me. I have played over 300 games in my career at this sort of level, so I know I can do well.

2 Having represented your country at all the youth levels up to U21, were you close to getting a senior call up?

It would have nice to get an International cap but it was not to be, mainly because of timing. If you look at who was around during my career, the three goalkeepers selected were always very good. Petr Cech would always be in the squad, then there have been a good number of Czech goalkeepers playing across Europe. At any one time there was always three goalkeepers around who played in the biggest leagues in Europe, so it was difficult. I was fourth choice for a number of major tournaments so I came close.

3 Favourite Save?

My most recent was probably my save for Partick Thistle which secured a top six spot against Motherwell in 2017.

I had saved a penalty against Celtic on the Wednesday before which gave us a 1-1 draw at Celtic Park and then we played Motherwell at home on the Saturday. At 1-0, there was a header from Zak Jules from a free kick that was going into the top corner. The ball was behind me, but I managed to keep it out. The Motherwell players actually thought it was in, but I managed to clawed it away. It was one of my best saves but also a very important one for the club. It was the highest they had finished in the league since 1981.

4 Favourite thing to do away from football?

I have done many different things over the years. I have always tried to study and prepare myself for life after football. Of course, more recently, having a family means there is less time for too many activities outside football! I do not have as much time but I do enjoy hillwalking, I do like taking photos, I like learning new things. I always try and read when I have time.

5 Who do you room with?

It is not always the same person but a lot of time, I have been with Joe this season. That has worked out quite well. Joe and I have a very good relationship. He is very easy to get on with and I hope I am the same.

Goalkeepers always try and help each other and support each other in training. I am doing my best to try and push Joe, but at the same time encourage him so he can perform to the level he has been performing.

I have played many games, I know being a goalkeeper is not easy! The last thing I would want to do is make it more difficult for anyone. Also from my experience, you appreciate when the other goalkeeper is supportive when you are playing. I find it completely natural to be supportive. Plus you are part of a team. The whole point of being in a team is to win games, so you try and help everyone who is out there to get the results that we need.

It’s a new role for me being a No 2, but I’m trying to prepare for every game as if I was playing, then step in if I am needed.

It’s brilliant working with Joe. I still learn from him because he is a different type of goalkeeper. We have a really good atmosphere between me and Joe and Gordon Marshall, the goalkeeping coach, and a couple of the young guys. It’s very enjoyable.

I think when you work alongside different goalkeepers and goalkeeping coaches, you always try to learn new things and improve parts of your game. Sometimes you see bits of the game that another goalkeeper does better than you, so I like to think I have improved a couple of things at Aberdeen, for me personally and for others, which is positive.

6 Has the art of goalkeeping changed over the years you have been in the game?

I think the basics are still the same, but I think the game has evolved significantly during that time. When I signed my first contract 17 or so years ago, the style of football was very different back then. The demands on the goalkeeper are increasing every year and will continue to increase. This is in terms of playing out from the back and being an eleventh outfield player on the pitch.

When I was starting, as a young keeper, it was not like that, especially with the older keepers I worked with. Things have evolved so much. Now the young keepers coming through, it is something that is just expected. It is a very important part of the game. Much more is expected of a goalkeeper now. You are still expected to make all the saves but on top of that, is there so much more that you need to do to be able to play at this level.

7 Favourite other sport?

That would be Ice hockey for me. Growing up in the Czech Republic, that was the number one sport along with football. It is very close as both are very popular. I played until I was 14, then I had to make a decision. I was at the stage where I needed to decide if I wanted to play hockey seriously or go up another level with my football. That was when I went from my local side to a proper club. I went for football and the ice hockey took a back seat.

I still enjoy watching games. When I sit and watch it with my wife, she complains that she can’t see the puck because of the speed of the game! I believe that is a problem others complain about too, but when you have been involved in the sport from a young age you are used to following the puck. It really was the first 14 years of my life, and I played as much as I could.

8 Person you would like to meet?

My grandfather.

He died when I was too young to really remember him or have a conversation with him. Over the years I have learned more about my grandfather and he had a very interesting life. I wish I could have a proper adult conversation with him.

9 Most influential person on your career?

There would be a few. Some of my youth coaches at Sigma Olomouc who coached me were brilliant.
In football, and especially being a goalkeeper, making the step from youth football to start playing regularly in the first team is tough. So I would have to mention Billy Reid on having a massive influence on my career by trusting me when I was first at Hamilton.

We were playing for promotion to the Premiership, we were in a good position with 18 or 19 games to go, and he put me in the team and told me I would be playing for the rest of the season. I was only 21 or 22 at the time, which is quite young for a keeper. It was a massive boost.

You go from playing youth football, to playing proper first team football and playing every week. That is when your confidence builds and you start feeling that you can do it at this level. The way he went about it was very good. It really helped me establish myself as a first team goalkeeper and allowed me to go on and have the career in the game I’ve had.
He told me I could do it and told me not to worry if I made a mistake, I would still play the next game. For a young player, that is very important. If you only get one shot at it, then it is difficult. If you have a number of games, then you are more relaxed and have a better chance of doing well.

For any manager it is not easy for them to throw youngsters into the team. At that time, every point was so important for Hamilton. We were fighting with Dundee to see who got promoted and there was just a point between the teams at the time. So I will also be grateful to Billy and I read Michael Devlin saying something similar as Billy was the one who gave him his debut as well.

10 What is the best way for young players to learn the game?

I think it is about setting an example for them. They see you every day. They see what you do. We have a lot of very good professionals here. If youngsters see these players going to the gym and doing what you need to do before training, maybe doing a bit after training, they will then think that is how you do it. So leading by example is definitely the best way. There are a lot of very good professionals at this club for the youngsters to learn from.

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