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18/01/1940: Várday interviews Jiří Sobotka

Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2021-09-13 12:43:56

Data providers: Isaque Argolo.
János Várday interviews Sobotka
János Várday | 18/01/1940

— Drumi, the best Hungarian stopper. Conversation with Sobotka, a former Slavia player, who is now a contracted tactical advisor and player for the Hadjuk Spalato.

A cold wind shakes my face as I grab the doorknob of Slavia’s home. The atmosphere inside is much friendlier. There is a festive dinner. A wreath of more beautiful ladies surrounds the marble tables. Now they say goodbye to Jiří Sobotka, Slavia’s famous, multiple national team jollyjoker who signed to Yugoslavia. Sobotka was a centre-forward in Slavia for seven years, then was withdrawn for defense alongside Daučík. This was when Černý was banned. However, Sobotka also played centre-half behind Bican more than once, when the Viennese star proved so well in the middle of the attack line.
It may be about 12 o'clock when we can single out Sobotka from the celebrants for a little chat. Ask him what experience he gained as a centre-forward and as a centre-half.
— There’s a big difference between the two roles —, he says. — When I was a forward, all my efforts were to support the insides. The inner game was the best match for our team at the time. This is what Konrád and then our coach Reichardt taught us. Then Daučík dealt with the team because Reichardt left because of the Černý case. Daučík tried to bring the English system into the squad. Daučík translated all the English articles and became an avid believer in the English system. (The result: Slavia without coach has become the autumn champion.) Now Slavia has another new coach in Seifert. Seifert is a member of the famous KolenatyKáďa — Seifert cover triple. At that time, this trio broke a lot of pepper under the noses of Hungarian forwards. Seifert, a devotee of the old school, wants to teach the old Scottish school, though more recently he seems to have fluctuated in his perception. It didn’t happen in one of our matches that he set up the team in the three-back system. Especially when we are faced with a strong opponent.
He then talks about what the life of the centre-forward was like in the past and what it is like now.
— When I was a centre-forward, this position was a pearl. They didn't catch me, they didn't stop at me. It was a lead when Kopecký and I passed. I confess: it is now a disgusting thing to be a centre-forward, they would stand on the man so much. Now only really classic players can thrive in this position and they can only do so if they have an understanding insider and very fast wingers. When I played centre-half behind Bican, I didn’t envy the centre-forward I stood on. Who would have thought — (Sobotka asks himself) — that I would ever be a stopper? Who would have thought that I would go after the centre-forward even if it fled to the wind in front of the stand? Why did I do this? Because the game of stopper is only real if you literally follow your opponent’s centre-forward everywhere.
They are always confusing us. The departing celebrants once again want to say goodbye to the popular Jirka. I count: 25 ladies have said goodbye to Sobotka so far.
— I should have one more, just the one I was most looking forward to, but she didn't come —, Sobotka says, — and then the number of ladies would be equal to the number of my years. (Sobotka is 26 years old.)
Then he starts talking about Hungarian players.
— As a centre-forward, I was terrified of Polgár Drumi. This hardcover boy, who is a very good friend of mine, is the best Hungarian stopper I have ever seen. Wherever I went, he followed me everywhere like a shadow. He was always in my corner.
He did this even when we lost the Hungarians 8:3 in Budapest, although, if I remember correctly, he was not a centre-half, but a defender.
See also: Die Kolumne #1
Sobotka says that four times he was selected by the Hungarians at the forefront. The result was a tie in two, the Czech national team was knocked out twice.
— What are you going to play in Spalato? — we ask.
— I do not know yet. All I know is that they were contracted not only as a player but also as a tactical advisor. I will only know there what my last role will consist of.
At the farewell, Sobotka also says:
— Please pass on a greeting to Polgár Drumi and my other Hungarian friends.