West Ham midfielder and captain of the Czech national team Tomáš Souček was announced as the winner of the Czech Golden Ball press poll for the best Czech footballer of the season, June 12, 2023, Prague.
Prague – West Ham midfielder Tomáš Souček won the Czech Golden Ball press poll for the best Czech footballer of the season for the third time in his career. The 28-year-old national team captain won the journalists' vote by a single point ahead of Fiorentina midfielder Antonín Barák and followed up on the first place from 2020 and 2021. Twente Enschede offensive all-rounder Václav Černý finished third with a considerable distance. Today, the Club of Sports Journalists announced the results of the 27th poll in Prague.
Souček won despite not winning the autumn or spring part of the vote. Halfway through the poll, he was third with a loss of 66 points to the continuously leading Pilsen goalkeeper Jindřich Staňek, but his spring did not go well and he fell to the final fourth place. Third place in the second half of the survey was enough for Souček to take the overall lead. Spring voting was dominated by Ladislav Krejčí Jr., captain of league champion Sparta. Defending leader in the poll, striker Patrik Schick from Leverkusen finished eighth due to injury.
A few days ago, the match with West Ham dominated the European Conference League and won its first trophy in UEFA cup competitions. Fullback Vladimír Coufal also rejoiced with him, who this time finished seventh in the poll.
In the season, Souček was one of the stable members of the Londoners' starting line-up, for which he started in 36 of the total 38 rounds of the English league with a balance of two goals and three assists. West Ham struggled for survival in the Premier League for a long time and eventually finished in 14th place. In the national team, Souček hasn't missed a single game this season, he hasn't scored a goal.
“I'm a team player. The conference league was the most I've achieved so far. I also consider titles and cups in the Czech Republic as more, but I'm also happy for individual awards. That I do the work I do at a good level. It's that's also a great motivation for the next season to continue the way I finished,” Souček told reporters.
West Ham beat Fiorentina, whose colors are defended by Barák, 2:1 in the final of the Conference League in Prague's Eden on Wednesday. After the fall, the 28-year-old midfielder had a 31-point lead over Souček in second place in the poll, but in the spring he received 32 points less and narrowly missed the overall lead. Not even five goals in the Conference League helped him to triumph.
“I also like when everything is balanced, just like the matches. When as many footballers as possible compete for victory. Tonda had a great season in Italy, he reached the final of the Conference League with the team,” praised Souček, who would have voted for teammate Coufal.
Černý finished the Dutch league season, including the cup playoffs, with an excellent record of 14 goals and 13 assists, moving from eighth place after the fall to third overall in the poll. Twente's 25-year-old offensive all-rounder lost over 200 points to the leading pair.
Staněk finished fourth as the highest ranked representative of the Czech league. After the fall, the 27-year-old goalkeeper had 35 points ahead of second-place Barák, but in the spring he received only 11 of the total 466 points from the journalists.
Right behind Staňek was another player from the domestic competition, Krejčí Jr. The 24-year-old defensive all-rounder wasted the autumn and did not score a single point, but in the spring he led Sparta to the first league title in nine years and 374 points was enough for him to finish fifth.
The ninth striker Václav Jurečka from Slavia made it to the elite ten from the Czech league, who won the imaginary crown for the king of the scorers' table with a powerful finish at the end of the spring. One position ahead of him in the poll was last year's winner Schick, who struggled with a lingering injury.
Staněk – 22 collected the most first places in the poll, but due to a worse spring it was not enough for him to win. Souček and Barák placed in the highest position exactly thirteen times, the overall winner got one second place more. At least 15 players appeared in the first position on at least one of the ballots.
The Golden Ball is announced by the Club of Sports Journalists. Football journalists vote in two rounds in autumn and spring, and the overall winner will be the sum of both rounds. 51 players scored at least a point this year, 51 journalists participated in the voting. In case of equal points, the higher number of better positions decided. The poll's record holder is former goalkeeper Petr Čech with 12 championships, Souček is in third place behind six-time winner Pavlo Nedvěd.
“When I was little, I was a huge fan of our national team. I loved the players working abroad. When I hear these names that I can join them, it's a huge honor for me. Now I see that young guys and young girls, footballers, they talk about me as a new generation of players, I really appreciate that. I want it to last as long as possible,” said Souček.
In the past, he also won the FAČR's footballer of the year poll twice and he once became the player of the season in the Czech league in the Slavia jersey. “My private hall of fame is filling up. I have it in the closet for now. As we are abroad now, when I am at home, I enjoy my family more. When I finish or go back to the Czech Republic, I would like to make my own little museum at home, ” said Souček with a smile.
“I also collect jerseys, there are a lot of them, maybe a hundred. I have various trophies there, my closet is currently filling up. I'm glad that there will be something to remember. I'll invite someone to home, my friends will be happy to see it, they are proud. I am grateful for every award,” Souček added.