It is fitting that Pavel Nedved is celebrating his birthday today of all days, the eve of the Bianconeri’s game against Lazio, because 13 of his 41 years were spent delighting fans of both sides.
It is a fixture that symbolises an extraordinary stay in Italy, a period that began with five years in the Lazio shirt in which he lit up the Biancocelesti’s outings at the Stadio Olimpico.
But it was during his subsequent eight years at Juventus that he truly became a great: he was a key figure in the team’s four Scudetto wins in the space of five years, and his own personal genius on the field was acknowledged with a European Player of the Year title in 2003.
With him involved, the Juventus v Lazio fixture has never lacked excitement. He scored five as a Lazio player (two against Michelangelo Rampulla, another two against Edwin Van der Sar and one with Angelo Peruzzi in goal). He then netted another two in the black and white stripes: one at the Delle Alpi and a memorable second in the 2004/5 campaign away at Roma, where he scored in the final seconds in a decisive moment for Juve’s conquest of the 28th Scudetto.
It is the Juventus v Lazio game on 31 May 2009, though, that sticks in the memory of many Bianconeri fans: the last of Nedved’s 327 games in the shirt. Six minutes from the final whistle, his substitution was a moving moment for everyone present and he walked off the pitch to a long and heartfelt applause.
All associated with Juventus Football Club wish Pavel a very happy birthday.