He always excelled in his physical fund, solid health, constantly played football for the old guard Slavia or the Czech internationals. That made his departure all the more painful. And more incomprehensible.
It has been almost fifteen years since František Veselý sat on the stands in Eden and ran to exhibition duels. But the fans feel that he is still close to the club.
Although he has also experienced other engagements, during his military service in Dukla Prague, he was also happy about the Czechoslovak title and at the end of his career he also got to know true professionalism in Austria, he is firmly attached to Slavia, where he started as a pupil. He is the record holder in the number of 920 matches in her jersey, he also played the most league matches 414.
No wonder he graces her hall of fame. It was he who symbolically touched the first ball on the lawn of the newly opened stadium in May 2008. “The kick-off in the new Eden was one of the most beautiful moments. When I’m seventy, I’d like to play my benefit here,” he said. Unfortunately, his wish did not come true.
His memory will continue to be remembered by all fans of the František Veselé Tribune, which was ceremonially baptized in his name in 2022 on the occasion of the 130th anniversary of the founding of the oldest Czech club.
Together with František Plánička and Vlastimil Kopecký, he became the first to stamp his star on the Walk of Fame in 2017.
Only a writer, a master of literary twists, can describe what Veselý meant to Slavia. And the most vocation was certainly Vítězslav Houška, the author of the club bible ‘Eternal Slavia’. He didn’t mince words, he was concise and to the point. Cheerful – that’s Slavia, Slavia – that’s Cheerful.
He did not go to Sparta
Nevertheless, there was not much left for him not to join the eternal and even hated rival, Sparta Prague. When he returned in 1964 as champion of the federal league from compulsory military attendance service in Dukla Prague, his beloved Slavia was not exactly experiencing bright times, after the second relegation in history, they were trying to get back among the elite.
This was to be helped by substantial reinforcements the following year, attackers Josef Píša and especially his namesake Josef Kadraba, a member of the silver team from the 1962 World Cup in Chile. His transfer from Kladno was not only related to the red and white jersey, he collected 80 thousand crowns for it, which was a lot of money at the time. The amount was provided by the Association of Friends, the club treasury did not officially have such an amount.
However, she was found out by a pupil who despised the possibility of staying in the army team on Juliska and enjoying honors, including duels in European cups. And he said about a financial bonus as well. Allegedly a hundred thousand, otherwise he will go elsewhere, he even threatened Sparta. And the transfer tickets had already been filled out, they were supposed to be handed in to the headquarters that day. There was consternation in Eden. Slavia could lose its jewel.
Fortunately, the conductor Zdeněk Barták, whose famous orchestra graced the big stage shows abroad, was on hand, a big fan and generous patron. “The chairman of the union, the actor Martin Růžek, asked me if I could do something about it, that they only got twenty,” Barták described the quick action. “They knew that I always had some free money, it was the same with music. We needed to pay someone or get someone to perform, I always had to have some kind of backup on standby,” he revealed behind the scenes in the art. “So I picked myself up and drove home. I lived with Bohdalka, opened the cupboard and took out eighty thousand,” he described the rescue fiscal action.
It is only necessary to remind that in 1965 the highest banknote was the hundred crown, the famous green one with a wreck and a farmer with a sheaf in the picture. And on the reverse Hradčany with the Charles Bridge in the foreground. With the sum of 80 thousand crowns, it was quite a large package that the patron had to transport to Slavia, which was not far at all. Over the hill.
Veselý stayed in Slavia.
The man of the big matches
He boasts a gold medal from the 1976 European Championship in Yugoslavia, and has been receiving invitations to the national team for twelve years. 34 matches is relatively few for such a period, he was not one of the regulars of the Czechoslovak team.
But when he was called up and got on the field, it was worth it. He was a big match player. His three goals are proof of that. Quite a few, but all of them had a hell of a lot of value.
He scored for the first time in the additional match for promotion to the 1970 Veta Championship in Mexico against Hungary in December 1969, hosted by the French port of Marseille, and played a major role in the 4-1 win. His shot increased the lead to 2:0, the opening goal was scored by Andrej Kvašňák from the penalty spot after a foul on him.
At the World Cup in Mexico, he was given confidence in all the group games, even playing the whole game against defending champions England. However, the choice of coach Jozef Marek was not successful at all in the tournament (three defeats), many players quit, but Veselý maintained his position of being ready to jump in at any time.
He added the second goal in the qualification for the 1972 European Championship in May 1971, when he scored the narrowest victory over Romania two minutes before the end in Bratislava on the Tehelno poli.
The most famous is certainly his third national team strike, which is tied to the semi-final of the 1976 European Championship in Zagreb against the Netherlands. And he also had a bigger share in the 3:1 result, after his escape and accurate pass, Zdeněk Nehoda scored with his head to make it 2:1.
Unavailable Cosmos, at least Rapid
Like other players of the golden generation, he longed for a foreign engagement, for true professionalism including adequate rewards that would allow him a dignified life after the jump of his career. And the possibility was there: the American New York Cosmos was interested in him.
He would play alongside such stars as Pelé, Franz Beckenbauer, Carlos Alberto and Johan Neeskens. However, the communist regime in the period of normalization did not let him into the country of the greatest imperialist enemy. “Franta was very devastated by it,” revealed his teammate from Slavia, also the 1976 European champion Dušan Herda.
The sun did not shine until 1981, when he moved to Austria’s Rapid Wien. “At least something,” his new teammate Antonín Panenka, also a member of the golden Belgrade party, accepted the desired foreign engagement.
A terrible ascetic
He subordinated everything to performance on the field and physical condition, including his private life and lifestyle. He took a spoonful of honey every morning, and he maintained his figure and athletic prowess until the late age of a football veteran.
He didn’t spend the night, he didn’t drink, he was quite obnoxious. Still, he managed to make an exception. When the soccer internationals went to Kazakhstan in September 2008, he avoided evening gatherings, read in his room and soon went to bed. To be fresh for the next race.
- December 7, 1943, Prague – October 30, 2009, Prague
- Playing career: Slavia Prague (1953-1962), Dukla Prague (1962-1964), Slavia Prague (1964-1980), Rapid Vienna/Austria (1980-1981), Sparkasse Zwettl/Austria (1981-1983), First Vienna/Austria (1983 -1984).
- Czechoslovak national team: 1965-1977 (34/3)
- Achievements: champion of Europe 1976 in Yugoslavia, champion of Czechoslovakia 1963/1964, winner of the Czech Cup 1973/1974
Nevertheless, one day his colleagues persuaded him to stay with them for a while after dinner and have a beer. He even drank two. “It was probably the biggest success of our expedition,” stated Václav Němeček, European vice-champion in 1996, who knew the Kazakh ambassador and arranged a trip to the Asian continent.
The name Veselý is written in glittering letters in Slavia not only because of him. The red and white jersey was already worn by his father, also baptized František, shortly after the Second World War, who was called the Duck because of his swinging gait. And the friendship with Josef Bican also flows from him, the whole families of Slavic legends had a very close relationship. “As a boy, I sat on a stool in Mr. Bican’s apartment in Holešovice and listened,” revealed the son of the 1976 European champion.
His name is also František, he grew up in Slavia and spent several seasons in the first league in Slavia. He also made one start in the 1995/1996 championship. It was decorated with digging technique, according to which methodical instructional films could be filmed. But the father’s tenacity was not there. Or rather, he was a victim of a famous name. “Despite all my efforts, I did not fulfill the expectations that were tied to my origin,” admitted František Veselý, the youngest, what a burden it was. “It wasn’t even possible,” he said, documenting the position his father had built for himself in Slavia.
Daniel, the grandson of the European champion, tried to do the same. “Fortunately, I’m not František, that would still be missing,” he also understood how difficult it is to start in a red and white jersey with the name Veselý on the back. In the 2011/2012 season, when Slavia was not in good financial condition and was sticking the staff together as much as possible, he played in five matches and scored one goal in the Vršovice derby.
A dynasty of four generations in one club, that’s unique.