During his stint in Italy with FC Genoa, he earned the nickname Bomber as he was unstoppable in front of goal. But he scored goals from an early age, that was his footballing nature. If this ability was woven into his nickname only in Italy, it is not because he was not respected in the Czech milieu.
Only the Italians were more imaginative. And most importantly, they didn’t have to break their tongues pronouncing his surname.
A shock for all of Europe
It was a European miracle that still resonates across the continent when remembered. In the 1st round of the 1983/1984 UEFA Cup, an enthusiastically combative Sparta Prague beat the famous Real Madrid 3:2 at home, on whose bench sat the legendary Alfredo Di Stéfano. Big cheers, pats on the shoulders, but also a prediction that in the rematch at the famous Santiago Bernabeu stadium, the brave Praguers will bounce back with a big ration of such audacity.
It didn’t look like a beating, but the home side scored a goal in the 23rd minute (Isidro scored with a header). This result would have been enough for them to progress, there was also a rule that favored the team that scored the most goals on the opposing field.
After an hour, Tomáš Skuhravý, who had already collected league minutes for Sparta the year before, escaped to the rowdy stands in place of midfielder Vítězslav Lavička. And the unexpected happened – in the 74th minute he jumped in the middle and defeated the local defense with his head.
Madrid were in shock. And with him in fact all of Europe. “Never before or since have Real been knocked out in European competition in the first round,” said then-Czech captain midfielder Jan Berger, who delivered the decisive blow.
He sees the goal scene live in front of his eyes all the time. “I caught the ball, crossed it, Tomáš jumped in front of the goalkeeper, who ran badly, and hooked it beautifully,” Berger recounts this unforgettable moment.
The coach knew what he was doing
Deploying an eighteen-year-old in such an important game was not a risk. “Tomáš played with us the year before, we knew what he was hiding in him,” admitted Berger. “He was tall, well made, he flew above the head where another would be afraid to set foot”, laughs the one who then led the piloting team. “He complemented himself well with Standa Griga, who was smarter,” described another striker. “Tomáš was not afraid, he flew into everything”, he repeats.
Coach Václav Ježek had a lot to do with the promising teenager’s quick transfer to adult football. “He knew what Tomas could do, he knew his strengths and really prepared him for Real,” the team captain appreciates the coach’s abilities. “Jezek had an exceptional sense of smell for players,” Berger points out.
The youngster, barely of age, did not get lost in the team full of representatives. “He didn’t have stage fright, we didn’t yell at him, Tomáš always had confidence in him,” admits Berger. “But no fluffy guy!” he refuses to judge his young teammate like that. “He performed the duties of a rookie, carried balls, cones to practice, whatever,” he describes what it was like in the football dressing room.
He grew up in the army
Skuhravý had a dreamlike debut on the international scene, suddenly becoming a Spartan fan favorite and known all over Europe. Not enough to make her head spin.
In addition, the successful run through the European Cup continued, in the 2nd round Polish Widzew Lodz and another tref Skuhravý were knocked out, then even Englishman Watford again with a goal contribution, the trip unfortunately ended in the quarter-finals with Hajduk Split. At home, Sparta stole the title from the Bohemians and ascended to the golden league after seventeen.
During the socialist era, however, a football career was interrupted by compulsory military service. Skuhravý did not sign for Dukla Prague, he is still an underdeveloped football personality for that, but for Rudá hvězda Cheb, who has become an excellent first league position for soldiers who have not yet matured in Dukla .
Two years hardened Skuhravy. “He started alongside great strikers. Who were Radek Drulák, Mireček Siva, Lubomír Pokluda or Roman Kukleta,” reveals Czechoslovakian international Peter Herda, also a member of League Gunners Club with 110 goals, 27 of them at Cheb, who shaped the Border Guard game from the central midfield position.
He admits that Skuhravý was not a model of a socialist athlete, violations of the way of life and military discipline belonged to him, but he grew up only in football. “Tomáš was well aware of the talent given to him and what his 193 centimeter frame is capable of,” says Herda.
“I knew he was going to have a great career,” he prophesied to her. And he wasn’t wrong.
The career of the Czech bomber was truly meteoric. He shone at the 1990 World Cup in Italy, where the Czechoslovak team advanced to the quarter-finals of the last joint tournament, scoring five goals, only one better than local gladiator Salvatore Schillaci.
After the championship he transferred to the Italian FC Genoa 1893, where he became a legend, with 57 league goals he is the club record holder. In 1993, director Jiří Střecha made a portrait with him for the GEN project, where the greatest personalities of the Czech nation from all walks of life were presented.
Decisive Years – Tomáš Skuhravý
- Tomáš Skuhravý (born September 7, 1965 in Přerov nad Labem) was a typical winger of his youth, he has asserted himself on the highest international stage since the age of eighteen
- He made his debut in the highest competition aged seventeen on November 28, 1982 in the jersey of Sparta Prague in Nitra (0:3). He scored his first league goal – the winner – in June 1983 in a match against Sigma Olomouc (3:2).
- Shortly at the age of majority he started for Sparta Prague as a substitute in the second leg of the UEFA Cup 1st round on 28 September 1983 against famed Real Madrid and eliminated them by a header.
- He made his debut for the Czechoslovak national team On September 9, 1985, when he was still nineteen, against Poland (3:1), he collected a total of 49 games and scored 17 goals, with five hits, he was the second highest scorer of the 1990 World Cup in Italy.
- is a member League Gunners Club of the weekly Gól with 133 hits (59 Sparta Prague, 57 FC Janov, 17 RH Cheb), he reached the limit in the spring of 1992 at the age of 26.
Ties with the Italian environment have remained so strong that he now spends most of the year on the Apennine Peninsula, where he attends to the youth academies that bear his name.
He went through a difficult period, both family and social, his Pension Bomber in his native Přerov nad Labem went bankrupt, he was subject to criminal prosecution. However, the football skills were unquestionable.
We talked a lot about him, he hid nothing. Except for one thing. When he occasionally goes to play for Sparta’s old guard, which is managed by former teammate Jan Berger, he looks rather clumsy on the pitch. “I have a slightly shorter leg,” he said of his physical disability, which has limited him since he was young.
He helped as much as he could. Special shoes, with soles for football boots, which have proven to be effective. Now 57, he takes it easy, running around in the field and examining how his rocking run in the Navy affects people.
“Extreme gamer. Food geek. Internet buff. Alcohol expert. Passionate music specialist. Beeraholic. Incurable coffee fan.”