Tomáš Souček wins Golden Ball for Czech footballer of the Year
For the first time in his career, midfielder Tomáš Souček won the Golden Ball journalistic poll for the best Czech footballer. The 25-year-old midfielder of the English West Ham in the 24th year dominated the spring and autumn part of the voting, and with a big lead of 391 points, he defeated the second defender of the trophy, goalkeeper Tomáš Vaclík from Seville. The third place was taken by another goalkeeper Ondřej Kolář from the championship Slavia Prague. The results of the survey were solemnly announced in Prague today.
Souček was second a year ago. This time he and Vaclík exchanged the order. The national team midfielder underlined the life season with a triumph in the Golden Ball and followed up on the March premiere victory in the FACR Football Player of the Year poll.
“I never imagined that I would win both polls (in one year). Personally, I was more of a team player, so I won personal trophies sometimes as a young boy. Less than six months ago, Footballer of the Year, now Golden Ball. For me, it’s a beautiful success, and I really appreciate that people, everyone who understands this, appreciate my individual work on the field, “Souček told reporters.
Souček created a decisive lead in the autumn when he still gained 784 points for his performances in the Slavia jersey and led 181 points ahead of Vaclík. Souček even won the spring part by 189 points ahead of forward Patrik Schick from Leipzig, who moved up to the fourth place.
In the autumn, Souček and Slavia played a group of the Champions League. In the domestic competition without a defeat, he led the table 16 points ahead of Pilsen. He was also one of the key figures in the national team, with which he advanced to the European Championship, which was postponed to next year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
After the winter departure from Eden, Souček immediately settled in the West Ham lineup and, thanks to the option to transfer to the “Hammers” was automatically exercised. He was also very productive of a defensive midfielder. In the autumn, he scored eight goals in the Czech league, two goals in the Champions League and one goal for the national team, in the spring he scored three times in the Premier League.
“Definitely a life season for me and at the same time the most difficult. Slavia and I entered it as best we could – we advanced to the Champions League. We were 16 points ahead of the league, probably not a better autumn in the Czech league. Then it came for me personally. A big transfer to England, where the rescue was successful. For me, the best season, and I believe that it will continue, “said Souček.
He would personally choose Schick as the best player of the season. “Now he has had a great time for the last six months and the whole season. He has scored a lot of goals. I wish him good luck to choose either Leipzig or the right club,” Souček reminded that Schick’s future is currently being addressed.
Only for the second time in the last 11 seasons did the goalkeeper not win the Golden Ball. Last year’s winner Vaclík, who qualified with Seville for the next year’s Champions League, had to settle for second place. For the first time, another goalkeeper, Kolář, finished on the imaginary podium, scoring a record 23 matches without a conceded goal in the past league year.
In the top fifteen, eight players played for Slavia during the season. Next to the winning Souček are the third Kolář, the fifth midfielder Alex Král, who left Eden for Spartak Moscow in the autumn, the seventh defender Jan Bořil, the eleventh other back Vladimir Coufal, the twelfth stopper David Hovorka, the thirteenth forward Milan Škoda, who in the spring in Rizespor, Turkey surpassed the goal of 100 league goals, and the fourteenth midfielder Petr Ševčík.
Compared to last year, in the top eleven, goalkeepers Jiří Pavlenka, Petr Čech and Tomáš Koubek, defender Theodor Gebre Selassie and midfielders Bořek Dočkal and Michal Trávník are missing. Instead of them, the goalkeeper Kolář, the defenders Bořil and Coufal and the midfielders Vladimír Darida, Adam Hložek and Jakub Jankto were among the best.
At least a point was scored by 53 players in the survey. The Golden Ball is announced by the Club of Sports Journalists of the Czech Republic. Football journalists vote in two rounds after autumn and spring, and the overall winner comes after adding up both rounds. A clear record holder of the poll is the former Czech goalkeeper, who won twelve times.