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24 days to Euro 2012: A chip off the old block

Czech Republic defender Michal Kadlec would love to emulate the exploits of the team his father played in at Euro ’96 this summer.

CESARE MALDINI, ARNOR Gudjohnsen, Frank Lampard Snr, Mazinho.

All men who saw their sons follow in their footsteps by carving out careers as professional footballers. Add to that list Michal Kadlec, the Bayer Leverkusen full-back who is hoping the Czech Republic can go as far as the team his dad Miroslav starred in 16 years ago in England.

At Euro ’96, Kadlec Snr captained a side featuring the likes of Karel Poborsky, Patrick Berger and Pavel Nedved all the way to the final at Wembley, where Germany stood in the way of a first ever win. In the end, it was an Oliver Bierhoff golden goal which settled the tie.

On growing up in the shadow of his old man, the 27-year-old said earning respect for his own ability was particularly tough.

My surname was actually more of a disadvantage, because people have certain expectations of the son of a famous footballer,” Michal told FIFA.comrecently.

“But it was something I always anticipated. I managed to silence the critics and go my own way, and it’s fantastic that it’s worked out so well.”

The Czechs face hosts Poland, Russia and surprise 2004 champions Greece in Group A and the player, capped 33 times for his country, believes they’re more than capable of progressing to the knockout stages and beyond.

“We took a great deal of criticism, but more recently we’ve shown we’re solid and in good form. The mood in the dressing room is outstanding at the moment, and we have to build on that. We could go a very long way at the Euro.”

Miroslav send Mehmet Scholl of Germany tumbling at Euro ’96. Credit: Sean Dempsey/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Michal celebrates scoring against Scotland during the Euro 2012 qualifiers. Credit: SCOTT HEPPELL/AP/Press Association Images

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Ben Blake

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