Your very own Czech Radio provided commentary for the 1934 World Cup final, as Czechoslovakia went 1:0 up through a goal by Antonin Puc. Czechoslovakia went on to lose that game - and also lost the only other final the country appeared in, in 1962. With the current Czech team in Germany on the eve of the 2006 finals, Michael Longaro looks back now at the country's history in the competition.
The Czech Republic are this year appearing in the World Cup for the first time since the state was founded in 1993. But as Czechoslovakia the country has appeared eight times on football's biggest stage.
The 1934 competition was actually Czechoslovakia's debut World Cup. The team, with the legendary Frantisek Planicka in goal and Oldrich Nejedly scoring freely at the other end, beat Germany 3:1 in the semi-finals to set up a clash with the hosts, Italy. After a goal in the 71st minute by Antonin Puc, the Czechoslovaks were 20 minutes away from an historic achievement.
Fate had its own way however, as Italy equalized late in the game and scored again in extra time to win its first World Cup. With Italian dictator Benito Mussolini watching, some suggested the officiating was far from fair. Either way, Czechoslovakia didn't go home empty handed, with the great Nejedly tying for the Golden Boot for most goals scored.
Czechoslovakia's next three appearances at the tournament - in 1938, 1954, and 1958 - were unmemorable, though they did reach the quarter-finals in '38, only to be eliminated by Brazil.
The 1962 World Cup in Chile saw a return to form by Czechoslovakia, who passed through the group stage by way of a draw with defending champions Brazil and victory over Spain. In both the quarter and semi-finals the Czechoslovaks managed to maintain their lead to defeat Hungary and Yugoslavia in convincing fashion, with striker Adolf Scherer tallying three goals.
In the final they again faced Brazil - and like in 1934 - took the lead, this time early in the game, when all-time Czechoslovak legend Josef Masopust scored in the 15th minute.
That joy was short-lived however, as history repeated itself with Brazil drawing level before eventually running out 3:1 winners. Czechoslovakia were runners-up once again, but still received a heroes' welcome when they paraded through the streets of Prague upon their return.
It wasn't until the 1990 World Cup in Italy that Czechoslovakia had its best result since 1962. In the first round they scored six goals, two by Tomas Skuhravy, known to fans as the bomber. They next faced off against Costa Rica in the second round, downing the football minnows 4-0 with Skuhravy netting a hat trick in the process, bringing the Czechoslovaks to the quarter-finals for the first time since 1962. They were unable to hold off the brute force of eventual winners Germany, who scored the only goal of the match, sending Czechoslovakia home.
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