Grazie Pavel Nedved, You Are a Warrior in Every Sense of the Word

Danny PenzaSenior Writer IJune 1, 2009

With his teammates wearing his No. 11 jersey, Juventus legend Pavel Nedved walked out of the tunnel at the Stadio Olimpico in Turin one last time, celebrating the end of one of the most-storied careers fans have ever seen.

The Bianconeri's faithful were chanting his name, a good number of them tearing up while he was taking his victory lap Juve's 2-0 win over Lazio on Sunday, recognizing the efforts Nedved has put in during his eight seasons in black and white.

Juve's famed Czech Fury played his 327th and final game of his Old Lady career Sunday against Lazio, the team he came to Turin from in 2001. He set up Vincenzo Iaquinta's second goal on a classic run.

He had a few chances to score, which would have certainly added icing on the cake, but in the end it was a celebration of his career rather than one single outing.

It is certainly the end of an era in Turin, with one of the Old Guards playing in front of the crowd that loves him so very much. With the tifosi chanting his name, something that happened time-and-time again, Nedved was subbed out in the 84th and subsequently mobbed by his teammates.

His influence goes even deeper than what he achieved on the field.

Nobody worked harder than Nedved did week in and week out, and for a team that is aiming to become younger, having a leader like Nedved proved to work in its favor.

His tireless running and physical condition was a testament to his dedication.

It's no wonder that he seemed to be everywhere on the field and sometimes ... well ... he basically was.

He played the second-most minutes of any Juve player this season and was the oldest player, at 36-years of age, who played regularly.

His runs down the left flank were classic and his left footed blasts could be equalized by few players in the world, if any at all.

Not too shabby.

However, with all the accomplishments on the field, it is character that matches his God-given talent.

With Juve getting demoted to Serie B, Nedved could have gone anywhere he wanted. But he stayed loyal to the cause at hand and stayed in Turin with the club to fight for promotion back to the top flight, instead of joining a club that was playing in the Champions League.

Others bolted, but Nedved stayed loyal to the club who has given him so much, and he felt it was only right to give something back to them and bring them back to glory in their darkest days.

If Juve fans needed yet another reason to love Nedved, then seeing him stick with the Old Lady in Serie B just added to their admiration for him.

His goals helped Juve get back to Serie A, helped them get back to the Champions League, and saved the day on numerous occasions.

When Juve were knocked out of the Champions League this year by Chelsea, Nedved was seen wiping away tears when he came off the field.

It wasn't because of the loss, it was because he had to come off injured just 12 minutes into the first half of the second leg, and he couldn't help the team he loves so much advance to the quarterfinals.

If he could have played on he certainly would have. The man was never afraid to play through pain and if that doesn't say enough about him, I don't know what does.

Yet as Nedved stepped off the field one last time Sunday, his trophy case is missing the one he never got the chance to fight for — the Champions League.

He was suspended for the final when Juvenuts faced rival AC Milan in 2003 because of a yellow card he received in the semifinals.

Don't feel too bad for him though, his resume in a Juventus jersey still speaks for itself: 2003 Ballon d'Or, Serie A Overall and Foreign Player of the Year, five Serie A titles (although two were revoked in the aftermath of the Calciopoli scandal), and two Italian Cup trophies.

"I think that'll do. I can stop running now. I can stop with a clear conscience, because I know we have done great things together."

Yes you have earned the right to take a break, Pavel, but it's hard to believe that you will ever stop running.


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