At times when Ballon d’Or was not a competition between two players, Serie A was Europe’s biggest stage. Big football fans remember the intensity of the Champions League final in 2003 between Juventus and Milan. However, the final had been denied its best player, Pavel Nedved. He is one of the greatest players in the history of football. He could not play because of his tackle on Steve McManaman in a preceding semifinal game against Real Madrid. Nedved won the Ballon d’Or award in the same year, but he could never forgive himself for getting a silly yellow card.
His emotions say everything. Having won Serie A and scoring a beautiful winning goal against Real Madrid on the 73rd minute, his careless tackle in the end of the game cost him the final.
Nedved was a leader of Juventus’ fantastic European and national campaigns. Juventus was up 3-0, and they could afford conceding one goal (which they did, Zidane scored on the 89th minute). Thus, Nedved’s third goal was a semifinal winner that allowed Juventus to proceed to the final. As a 31-year-old player at the time, he probably understood that it could well be his last chance to play in the final game. It turned out to be true, and Nedved devoted a whole chapter to the ill-fated yellow card in his autobiography book called “My Normal Life”. He called that moment a nightmare and the bitterest defeat in his life. Known to everyone as a tenacious player, whose offensive and defensive work-rate was unbelievable, Nedved regretted that he could not help his teammates and fight with them in the final.
Nedved is one of the few Ballon d’Or winners who have never won the Champions League. He is currently the vice-president of Juventus and might be able to win the title, at least, as an administrative employee. Nedved was not only an outstanding player but also a great role model. He was awarded the Medal of Merit, the most prestigious award in Czech Republic, for his meritorious contributions to the state. Also, UEFA changed the rule two years ago, which stated that accrued yellow cards would be wiped out after the quarter-final stage. If only had this rule been implemented 13 years ago…
Nedved, Pavel. La Mia Vita Normale. Di Corsa Tra Rivoluzione, Europa E Pallone D’oro. Turin: ADD Editore, 2012. Print.
“Champions League: Uefa Changes Rule on Yellow Cards.” BBC Sport. 18 July 2014. Web. Accessed on 19 Feb. 2016.