The Czech Republic’s first competitive football match following its formation was in the Euro 96 qualifiers. And what a start to international football they had, finishing on top of the group 5 qualifying group ahead of Holland.
Puma had a tough job on their hands designing the Czech Republic kit for Euro 96. They needed a shirt to do the newly formed nation proud and to take the attention away from Karel Poborsky’s face. And with this cracking football shirt they did not disappoint.
Czech Republic, Puma, 1996
Berger, Smicer, Poborsky and co had a slow start to the tournament losing their opening game to Germany at Old Trafford. But they soon found their spiritual home at Anfield, where they beat Italy 2-1 and scored a last minute equaliser against Russia to book their place in the knock out rounds.
Villa Park was next, where Karel Poborsky scored that lob against Portugal - to secure his move to Manchester United. And back to Manchester United the Czech Republic team went, to knock out France on penalties in the semi-final. Kadlec held his nerve as Pedros bottled it for France.
So to Wembley for the final against Germany. This was the Czech Republic’s first game in London and first on the Wembley pitch, whilst Germany had already played their semi-final there. Initially the extra experience did Germany little good, as Berger scored the opener for the Czech Republic, but the tide turned. Germany through Oliver Bierhoff scored the equaliser and then the first golden goal in the history of the competition.
So for making it to the final of your first ever competitive tournament and for dazzling Europe with this Puma kit, the Czech Republic - we salute you.
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