A genius in the field who had only one flaw: he had a mortal fear of flying

Jozef Adamec had a rare disposition – he never suffered from nervousness or a lack of self-confidence. “When in 1961, at nineteen, he enlisted in the army in Dukla, he was a personality on the pitch and in the locker room,” recalls Miloslav Jícha, the club’s longtime secretary. Prague. “He treated the supporters of the time with respect, but without any sign of fear or even subservience,” he adds.

A confident representative

He heard the Czechoslovak national anthem for the first time in a match against the Netherlands in the fall of 1960, that is, at the age of 18, and with him two other future Chilean Argentine party members – Václav Mašek, One Year Older, and Jozef Štibrányi, enjoyed the premiere with him. Coach Rudolf Vytlačil has added youth to the experienced squad, which won bronze medals at the inaugural European Championship this summer.

None of them were lost. “It was not easy to rub shoulders with fighters like Josef Masopust, Ján Popluhár, Ladislav Novák, Svatopluk Pluskal or Viliam Schrojf”, recalls Václav Mašek, the hard core of the team which celebrated its 30th birthday last year. next.

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The youngest of them, Adamec, certainly did not play the role of the screaming Benjamin. “Jožo was extremely confident,” admits the Spartan shooting icon. “And he had a reason, he was aware of his qualities,” he admits.

They had known each other since they were teenagers, they knew each other all over the country – ABC Braník and MFK Vrbové were wards. “I really appreciated Jož, how he always knew how to manage the defender assigned to him,” admits Mašek. “At that time, the compositions of the league did not change much, everyone knew each other and Jožka managed to do it despite his young age”, he underlines. “It was very difficult,” he says.

The full trio were nominated for the 1962 World Cup in Chile two years later.

It was difficult for the tribune to breathe

Adamec and Štibrányi played all three basic group matches (it was not possible to alternate in official matches at the time) – against Spain (1:0), Brazil (0:0) and Mexico (1:3). Mašek joined them for the third game, when the Czechoslovak team’s progress to the quarter-finals was already decided.

In this one against Hungary, in the semi-final against Yugoslavia and in the final against Brazil, however, other attackers – the more experienced Tomáš Pospíchal and Josef Kadraba – were preferred. “Vasil, as we nicknamed him Štibrányi, was of a more cheerful nature and kind of got over it, but Jožko took it hard, it was evident in him,” reveals Mašek.

However, he didn’t receive an explanation as to why this happened, or even a personal interview with the coach, where he would explain everything in detail. “How could coach Vytlacil allow himself to talk about this?” asked Mašek. “And his movements were sometimes very surprising,” he reveals.

Everyone had to take care of it on their own. “Then you keep thinking and looking for fault in yourself, which you did wrong, because you have no other way out,” Mašek points out, how Adamec struggled to come to terms with the fact that he had to watch the duels in the stands. “He was very confident,” repeats the Spartan colleague.

He was really afraid to fly

Throughout his career, Adamka had a reputation for being afraid to fly. “He was really scared,” confirms Mašek. The trips across the ocean – to the 1962 World Cup in Chile and 1970 in Mexico, in which Adamec also took part, otherwise he would not have been able to – represented utter suffering for him. “He sat down and didn’t even huff, he hooked the kind of straps that passengers used to fasten instead of today’s seat belts, and he just prayed that we were already landing,” says a fellow representative.

Decisive years

  • Jozef Adamec (born February 26, 1942 in Vrbov) demonstrated from an early age excellent digging technique, which makes him a dangerous shooter. He always believed in himself in the end, was never afraid to take responsibility.
  • He made his senior competition debut for Spartak Trnava 17 years old on March 22, 1959 in the match against RH Brno (3:1), he scored the first goal two months later in the net for champions ČH Bratislava (3:1). With Dukla Praha he won two league titles in 1961/1962 and 1962/1963, with Spartak Trnava five in 1967/1968, 1968/1969, 1970/1971, 1971/1972 and 1972/1973. He became the league’s top scorer four times.
  • He made his debut for the Czechoslovak national team October 30, 1960 in a friendly match with the Netherlands (4:0) at the age of 18, he collected a total of 44 games and scored 14 goals in them.
  • The youngest member of the Czechoslovak selection, which on 1962 World Championship in Chile won silver medals, started in the core group against Spain (1:0), Brazil (0:0) and Mexico (1:3). Participating in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.
  • is a member League Gunners Club of the weekly Gól with 170 accurate hits (138 Spartak Trnava, 17 Dukla Prague, 15 Slovan Bratislava), he reached the limit in August 1969 at the age of 27.

Even time and thousands of miles in the air haven’t rid him of his fear. “When we were invited to Sao Paulo in Brazil in 2012, where an exhibition was held to celebrate Chile’s 50th anniversary, Jožo was originally supposed to fly too,” continues Mašek. “We were waiting for him in Ruzyna, the ticket was bought, he didn’t show up, the phone wasn’t available,” he describes.

He never got over this phobia.

Coach training

Throughout his playing career, Adamec consistently went his own way, becoming one of the most important figures in Czechoslovakian football. And he also constantly prepared for the coaching career, in which he also achieved a lot, in 1999-2002 he also led the Slovak national team.

However, he did not copy the strategist Vytlačil, he himself admitted that his direct role model was Trnava coach magician Anton Malatinský, the famous “Toni-báči”, who won five league titles with the team from the district town and reached the semi-finals of the European Nations Champions Cup in 1968/1969 with a team from the smallest town (population 65,000) that made it this far.

The star and striker of the Adamec team had already planned during his active career to switch to training after his end, and secretly collected Malatinský’s notes with his tactical instructions.

When he then sat on the bench for the Slovak national team, he discovered how extremely socially scrutinized and therefore unrewarding this position is. “I don’t regret doing it, even though I made a lot of enemies with this job,” he admitted. “If you want more, sit on the bench. After every defeat, the nation will not be satisfied and the first person to feel it is the coach. That’s why he must have strong nerves” , he realized what that position entailed.

And even in this role, he left an indelible mark on the history of the already independent Slovak football.

John Robinson

"Extreme gamer. Food geek. Internet buff. Alcohol expert. Passionate music specialist. Beeraholic. Incurable coffee fan."

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