Did you realize that the round anniversary of your triumph in 1980 is approaching?
Until recently, not much. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that a teammate from the then Olympic team, Honza Berger, called me to say that he would like to organize a meeting.
How often do you remember the historically greatest success of domestic team sport at the Summer Games?
I have the final duel recorded on tape. At first, I let him in here and fell in love a little. In recent years, however, less and less. But sometimes someone tells me that he saw my shot on TV. For example, recently during a rerun of the series Tell.
A moment of joy for Czechoslovak football players after the winning final in the 1980 Olympic tournament in Moscow. On the left Oldřich Rott, on the right the scorer of the only goal of the match Jindřich Svoboda.
Jiří Kruliš, ČTK
But you still have the decisive moment of the final in your head, don’t you?
Of course. After a high Štambacher center, I headed for the East German goal, but the goalkeeper Rudwaleit dampened my shot. In the rain, however, he did not hold the wet ball in his hands, and for the second time I headed infallibly into the net from the stop. It was an unbelievable euphoria. I have not had a nicer moment in my football career. It was great that I was able to share the joy with Czechoslovak fans. The Olympics in Moscow at that time was one of the few that people from us could visit in large numbers.
Did you believe at that moment that you would keep the lead 1: 0?
He believed, but it wasn’t easy at all. The Germans created two more tutovky in the remaining less than a quarter of an hour, but our goalkeeper Seman eliminated them with excellent interventions.
Was the final with the GDR the hardest duel of the Olympic tournament?
I would not say. For us, paradoxically, it was the most demanding basic group we played in what was then Leningrad. There was a huge heat and we didn’t get much sleep because of the so-called white nights. In addition, the teams from Nigeria and Kuwait were very unpleasant and tough opponents. We advanced to the elimination phase with scratched ears thanks to a single win over Colombia and two seals. After the subsequent move to Moscow, however, our performance went significantly up.
Do you value the Olympic championship more than the league title with Brno’s Zbrojovka in 1978?
Definitely. After all, the Olympic tournament was watched all over the world. In addition, I had a significant share in its result. On the contrary, in the season when Zbrojovka and I won the championship cup, I was not one of the key players in the team.
Already at the Olympic Stadium, you celebrated powerfully with the national teammates. What happened next?
We continued to a disco in the Olympic Village. The current flowed mainly classic Russian vodka. Unfortunately, the basketball player Áda Pospíšil, who died today, got it at the Czechoslovak embassy. He confessed, so I gave him the task. We knew each other well from Brno. The Basques were eliminated in the group at the Olympics, but leading the expedition allowed them to stay in Moscow until the end.
In addition to you, coach Havránek also selected Václavíček and Mazur for the Olympic team from Zbrojovka, other players were mostly supplied by Dukla and Baník. How did you get along?
Great. We made a great party. We have always been friends with the Ostrava residents Radimec, Lička, Rygl, Němec or Šreiner. At that time, Dukla was our main opponent in the fight for the top positions in the league table, but Láďa Vízek, Luďa Macel, Jarda Netolička, Franta Štambacher and Old Rott were terribly good guys. The same goes for Honza Berger or Luboš Poklud. And the only Slovaks Seman and Kunz also fit very well into the team.
In addition to you, weightlifter Ota Zaremba also won gold in Moscow for the then Czechoslovakia. Have you seen his winning competition with your own eyes?
No. Our tournament ran from the beginning to the end of the Olympics. Everyone was expecting a medal from us, so coach Havránek did not want us to go anywhere and be distracted. We focused only on football. But Ota and I met and debated in the Olympic Village.
Have you met someone even more famous?
Yes. During the gold celebration, the legendary Cuban Teofilo Stevenson suddenly came to me, winning the third gold medal in a row in Moscow in the heaviest boxing weight. Excited, he hugged me around the shoulders and congratulated me on the winning shot. It was terribly immediate from him, I remember it very much.
Due to the boycott of some Western states, the Moscow Games were sometimes referred to as not entirely full-fledged. Did you mind?
Nothing like that got to us. I don’t like similar words. After all, you can always beat whoever participates. That is why, for example, I am terribly annoyed by the occasional trivialization of Honza Kodeš’s victory in tennis Wimbledon. And in a similar vein, we would have to talk about the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, where the then Eastern Bloc was missing for a change.
What did your return to Prague look like with gold medals then?
Representatives of the then ČSTV, led by chairman Antonín Himl, drank champagne with us at the airport. In addition to congratulations, there was also a joint photo shoot. Otherwise, it was not very famous at home, because it was just before the start of the league competition. So we all immediately dispersed to our clubs.
Did you receive any financial reward for the first place?
We already received victory prizes in Moscow. And after arriving home, everyone received thirty thousand crowns in addition. I remember buying a color TV in Tuzex, and I only had two thousand left. Today, a similar one could be bought for maybe a tenth.
Due to a torn meniscus, you lost the famous European Championships in Belgrade in 1976. Did you take success in Moscow as a patch for the disappointment of that time?
Exactly. The coach of the national team Ježek saw in me an alternative to Belgrade for Ján Pivarník to the right edge of defense. I was on the field in a five-goal victory in qualifying over Portugal. At ninety-nine percent, I would not miss the nomination for the final tournament of the European Championship. A serious injury deprived me of her at the last minute, which took me a lot. Fortunately, four years later, the opposite was true. The knee pain disappeared at the right time, so I managed the last qualifying encounter with Hungary. We famously won 3: 2 in Strahov and I was also present among the chosen ones for the Olympic tournament.
Has a golden goal changed your football or non-sporting life in any way?
At all. Although I heard about the interest of some European clubs, my move abroad at the age of twenty-seven was out of the question at the time. The age limit was set at thirty-two years. So I had to wait too. At the end of my career, I worked in Austria for eight seasons, but no longer in the highest competition.
Did you become better known thanks to the winning final goal?
Hard to say. Sometimes someone met me and talked to me on the street, but that was probably mainly because Zbrojovka was experiencing the best times in club history at the time. Fans in Brno literally lived by football. In a few matches, there were less than twenty-five thousand spectators at the stadium behind Lužánky.
What did you eat after your active activity?
At first, at the instigation of the then club manager Karel Kroupa, I worked as a custodian in Zbrojovka, but that didn’t fill me much. Then I roasted coffee for two years. I enjoyed it much more, and I received at least twice as much money for it. It’s a pity that I couldn’t last longer due to disputes between the owners of the company. I have been working as a tennis court administrator for a long time.
Is tennis your favorite sport after football?
Most of all, I can still take an active part in it at my age. Unfortunately, due to the condition of my knee, I can no longer play football. He still did his maximum football when the knee was at rest.
Don’t you envy today’s top football players, many of whom don’t even have to move a finger after a career?
No. We just each played at a different time. There is nothing that can be done about it.
In Brno, you live in the same barracks as another Olympic winner, Jiří Daler, who triumphed in a cycling fighter in Tokyo. Do you see symbolism in that?
It’s more of a coincidence. Thanks to that, Jirka and I became very friendly, and we were even on holiday in Croatia with the whole family for five years in a row.