Pavel Nedvěd, former Czech national football team captain and the best footballer of his generation, has appeared on a special set of coins, celebrating Czech football legends. Issued by the Czech Mint in Jablonec nad Nisou, the series already features 10 legendary Czech and Czechoslovak footballers, including Antonín Panenka and Josef Masopust. Part of the proceeds from their sale is used to support retired football internationals.
At a ceremony at the Czech Mint in Jablonec nad Nisou on Tuesday, Pavel Nedvěd pressed the first gold coin featuring his face and signature on the reverse side. On the other side is the portrait of Queen Elisabeth II, who opened the World Cup at Wembley in 1996, where Pavel Nedvěd helped the Czech team to reach the final.
“It is a strange feeling, seeing yourself on a coin, but it is of course a great honour and it makes me very proud. As a kid I read books about Josef Masopust, Antonín Panenka and I wanted to be like them. So I did what I could, I played football, and now I am standing here next to Antonín Panenka. It is fantastic that we can help the boys who played before us and couldn’t make as much money as we could.”
Forty-four-year-old Pavel Nedvěd is regarded as one of the most successful players to emerge from the Czech Republic. The local lad from near Cheb in the far west of the country made his name with Italian clubs Lazio and Juventus Turin, whom he led to the 2003 UEFA Champions League Final. He also captained the national team at Euro 2004, which got into the semi-finals and helped his team to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since the breakup of Czechoslovakia. Over his 19-year career, he received number of awards, including the prize for the 2003 European Player of the Year.
The series of coins commemorating Czech football legends was launched by the Czech Mint back in 2014. Ten coins have been issued to date, including goal keeper Ivo Viktor, defenders Jan Lála, Karol Dobiáš and Miroslav Kadlec, midfielders Josef Masopust, Karel Poborský and Antonín Panenka and strikers Josef Kadraba and Zdeněk Nehoda. The last player to complete the team will be Jan Koller.
“Our goal is to help players from the older generation who represented the country at least once and didn’t have the chance to provide for themselves. The foundation was established 16 years ago and to date we have handed out over 18 million crowns to former players. The Czech Mint is one of our biggest partners and to this date, we got around 750,000 crowns from the sale of the coins.”
The 200 gold coins featuring Pavel Nedvěd have already been sold out and there are just a few available in silver.