Sat, Jun 14, 2008 - Page 20 News List

Bruckner preparing to compose final soccer symphony

END IS NIGH The Czech coach, who has earned his players' devotion, will head to his farm and do some gardening should his side lose to Turkey tomorrow

AFP , SEEFELD, AUSTRIA

Appropriately for a man who shares a surname with one Austrian classical music composer, Czech Republic coach Karel Bruckner is a devotee of another Austrian composer in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

However, the 68-year-old Czech could be about to compose his last starting XI for the Euro 2008 Group A clash with Turkey tomorrow — defeat would mean the Czechs going home and Bruckner stepping down, which he is going to do whenever their interest in the tournament ends, thus bringing down the curtain on his seven-year reign.

The chess-mad coach handled the moment when he announced he would be stepping down — having taken the Czechs to three successive major finals — with typically laconic style.

opting out

“After 34 years work as a coach, I have opted for another way of life,” Bruckner said at the end of March.

Never one to show his emotions, Bruckner strikes quite a persona on the sidelines with his long flowing silver hair, craggy lived-in features and his husky voice due to many years of smoking, and he acknowledges that tomorrow could be his final day in the hotseat.

“It will be special, but maybe there will be more opportunities,” said Bruckner, evidently hoping his side make it at least to the last eight.

hobby

Otherwise he will be returning to his farm in Hlubocky, some 20km from his birthplace of Olomouc, where he stayed for most of his soccer career both as a player and then 16 years as coach of Sigma Olomouc, and will content himself with his other hobby of gardening.

Bruckner has earned the devotion of his players — some critics would say that he has been too loyal to some, such as Milan Baros, who have known better days.

“He has a natural authority and is a remarkable character,” full-back Tomas Ujfalusi said.

Goalkeeper Petr Cech said that he is a master strategist.

“Most of the time, matches play out just as he predicted,” Cech said.

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