The tributes have flowed in from across the European footballing world after the shock news that former Czech and Newcastle goalkeeper Pavel Srníček died on Tuesday at the age of 47. Srníček was capped for his country 49 times from the mid 1990s to 2002 but was best known for his role between the posts for his beloved Newcastle United.
Contemporary footballing greats, such as fellow Czech goalkeeper Petr Čech, and legends from the past such as Newcastle and England strikers Alan Shearer and Andrew Cole were quick to pay tribute to Pavel Srníček following Tuesday’s news that he had died at an Ostrava hospital nine days after suffering a heart attack. Srníček was just 47.
For his country, Pavel Srníček appeared just short of 50 times and earned a runners-up medal at the European Championships hosted by England in 1996, but only as third choice ‘keeper. His playing career for his country ended in 2002 after the failure to qualify for the World Cup.
But it was at Newcastle United in its heyday that Srníček made his reputation and earned a place forever in the hearts of Geordie fans. The Czech arrived from Baník Ostrava in 1991 with Newcastle in the doldrums of the second English division. But Srníček soon made his mark and in the 1993-94 season the team won promotion to the recently created Premier League.
With the all attacking, but not always defending, formation of manager Kevin Keegan, Srníček and Newcastle came close to winning the league in the 1995-1996 season and came second again in the league a year later.
By then, Newcastle were a star studded team and one of the biggest clubs in England. The Czech only left Newcastle in 1998 after losing his position as number one keeper, returning briefly to Baník Ostrava and later playing in England, Italy and Portugal. He came back to Newcastle in 2006, but as a reserve keeper, and called time on his playing career a year later.
As Srníček told Czech Radio, it was a career that at one stage in his early teens at school looked more than unlikely. “I was the smallest of all the boys [in the class] until I around the age of fourteen at that time.”
More recently, Srníček was one of the goalkeeping trainers for top flight Czech league club Sparta Prague. His book about his time at Newcastle “Pavel is a Geordie” was recently published in English. And that was the refrain was sung by just over 50,000 Newcastle fans during the Boxing Day encounter with Everton.
The player’s agent said that one of the former player’s last ambitions had been to get together the greats from those triumphant years at Newcastle for a final commemoration match.