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František Plánička ( ; June 2, 1904 – July 20, 1996) was a Czech football goalkeeper and one of the most honoured players in the history of Czechoslovakianmarker football. He played the majority of his career for Slavia Prague, during which time the club won the Czech league eight times and the Mitropa Cup once. He also became a member of the Czechoslovakia national team and later its captain during the World Cup competitions in 1934 (where the team finished second) and 1938.

Plánička was a courageous player, to the extent that in Czechoslovakia's 1938 World Cup match against Brazil, he remained on the field despite having suffered a serious injury. He was a goalkeeper of outstanding reflexes and shot-stopping abilities and was also characterized by his sportsmanship, never once being cautioned or sent off in his career. In 1985, he was awarded the UNESCOmarker International Fair Play Award and the Czech Fair Play Award in 1994.

In 1999, the IFFHS elected him the best Czech goalkeeper – and ninth best overall – of the twentieth century. In 2003, he was catalogued as the greatest goalkeeper of his era.

Club career

Born in Praguemarker, Plánička played most of his footballing career and lived most of his life in the Czech capital. In the beginning of his career, Plánička played for the clubs Slovan Praha VII, Union VII, Staroměstský SK Olympia, and SK Bubeneč. He played for Slavia Prague from 1923 to 1939, in what has been one of the most successful eras in the club's history. He appeared in 969 matches of which he was captain in 742. Although he was of below-average height for a goalkeeper, at 1.72m (5 ft 8 in), he was an effective shot stopper, and his acrobatic style earned him the nickname The Cat of Prague.

Plánička won his first league title in 1925, which was the club's first professional league championship ever. Slavia then won three consecutive titles from 1929 to 1931.

In 1932, Slavia reached the semifinals of the Mitropa Cup. In the first leg, they beat Juventus FC 4-0; in the second leg, Juventus had a 2-0 lead after which, according to RSSSF, Slavia resorted to obstruction and time wasting, which extended to the stands to the point that spectators started throwing stones on the pitch; one of the projectiles hit Plánička, causing him a serious injury. Slavia abandoned the pitch and the game stopped, and this led to their disqualification from the tournament.

Slavia had another streak of three leagues won from 1933 to 1935, and won again 1937, with Plánička still between the goalposts.

Plánička also won six Bohemia cups (a domestic tournament) with Slavia, in 1926, 1927, 1928, 1930, 1932, and 1935. His only international title came in 1938, when his club finally won the Mitropa Cup.

National team

Between 1926 and 1938, Plánička played 73 times in goal for Czechoslovakia, a record that stood until 1966 when Ladislav Novák earned his 74th cap. Plánička was the national team captain 37 times. His international debut was on January 17, 1926 in a 1-3 loss against Italy.

1934 World Cup

He helped the Czech team qualify to the 1934 World Cup, and was the captain in the finals. After Czechoslovakia beat Romania, Switzerland, and Germany, they played the final against hosts Italy, who also had one of the great goalkeepers of the time, Giampiero Combi, as its captain. The Czechs took the lead in the second half, but Raimundo Orsi's shot beat Plánička for the equalizer, sending the match to extra time, and then a goal by Angelo Schiavio gave the Italians the victory.

1938 World Cup

Plánička captained the Czechs again to the 1938 World Cup, where they beat the Netherlandsmarker 3-0 in the first match, with all three goals in extra time. In the second round, they faced Brazil on July 12, in what was one of the most violent matches in World Cup history, known as the "Battle of Bordeaux." One Czech and two Brazilian playes were sent off, and players from both teams suffered serious injuries. With the game tied 1-1, Plánička's teammate Oldřich Nejedlý had to abandon the pitch with a broken leg, and then Plánička himself suffered a broken arm, after colliding with Brazil's striker Perácio's kick, as the Brazilian attempted to shoot. Plánička did not leave the pitch, however, and instead played through the pain until the end of regulation and through the subsequent extra time, which had no change in the score. The game was replayed two days later, and Czechoslovakia, without Plánička or forwards Nejedlý and Antonín Puč, lost 2-1 and was eliminated.

Plánička only conceded one goal in 240 minutes played, having the lowest goals against average with 0.38 goals per 90 minutes (better than Aldo Olivieri of champions Italy). He was selected to the Best XI of the tournament by a group of journalists.

The match against Brazil in Bordeaux was the last of Plánička's international caps.

After retirement

Plánička died in 1996 in Prague. At the time of his death, Plánička was the last living member of the Czech squad at the 1934 World Cup. Czech national team midfielder Karel Poborský attended his burial, postponing his contract signing with Manchester United, which was scheduled to happen the same day.


  • Czech league winner: 1925, 1928-29, 1929-30, 1930-31, 1932-33, 1933-34, 1934-35, 1936-37
  • Mitropa Cup winner: 1932
  • Bohemia Cup winner: 1926, 1927, 1928, 1930, 1932, 1935
  • FIFA World Cup runner-up: 1934
  • UNESCOmarker International Fair Play Award: 1985
  • Czech Fair Play Award: 1994.

References and notes

  1. Although some sources indicate that Plánička boke his arm by colliding with Brazilian striker Perácio ( [1], [2]), these Brazilian sources (both ): [3][4] state that the injury occurred when the goalkeeper collided with the post, while defending the Brazilian's shot. Some sources also suggest that Plánička not only broke his arm, but also broke (or dislocated) his clavicle, or that he injured his clavicle but not his arm.
  2. Radio Praha, Český rozhlas 7 - Czech football legend František Plánička - Radio Praga, Czech Republic.
  3. Planicka: Astro do 'fair play' - by André Lacerda,, 2006
  4. IFFHS' Century Elections - - by Karel Stokkermans, RSSSF.
  5. The World's best Goalkeeper of the Century - - IFFHS. Retrieved October 29, 2006.
  6. Sports Illustrated's World Cup Hall of Fame - Frantisek Planicka - - CNN/Sports Illustrated, 2003.
  7. Source: England Football Online
  8. Official web site of Slavia Prague - František Plánička bio - by Michael Janáček, Slavia Praha, 2004.
  9. "Planicka, Der König der Robinsonaden" - - WDR, 2005
  10. Mitropa Cup 1932 report - by Karel Stokkermans, RSSSF, 1999.
  11. Football Association of the Czech Republic - national team statistics -
  12. Czechoslovakia - Record of international players - RSSSF
  13. "Controversies: Battle of Bordeaux" - - The Hindu newspaper, India, 2002.
  14. Excluding Hungary goalkeeper József Háda, who played 90 minutes without conceding a goal in the tournament.

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