Presentation of the trophy for the winners of the UEFA European Conference League. FAČR chairman Petr Fousek and former Czech national team member and former Fiorentina player Tomáš Ujfaluši attended. June 6, 2023, Prague.
Prague – While the majority of Czech spectators will probably be rooting for West Ham with representatives Tomáš Souček and Vladimír Coufal in Wednesday's final of the European Conference League, former defender Tomáš Ujfaluš will be rooting for his former club Fiorentina with Antonín Barák. He fondly remembers the four years he spent in Florence and still returns to the Tuscan capital for matches. Before the final in Prague, he planned to personally visit the team and the custodians with a fitness trainer he knows.
“It is possible that the majority of people in the Czech Republic will rather support West Ham. But I think there are also an awful lot of Italians here. A lot of Fiorentina fans will also arrive. There will also be a fan zone where those who cannot get directly to the stadium can watch . So I'm convinced that there will be a lot of Fiorentina fans,” Ujfaluši told reporters when unveiling the winning trophy at the exhibition in front of the Rudolfinum.
The former Czech international player played for Fiorentina between 2004 and 2008. “It was an amazing four years in my career, the memories are only positive. It's just a shame that we didn't have a chance to fight for a European cup then. We reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup, where we got knocked out by Glasgow Rangers,” Ujfaluši said.
“Amazing city, great fans. Basically, I went from being a central defender to switching to the right side there. So that played a big role in my career as well, ” added the 45-year-old former defender, who won the Europa League with Atlético Madrid in 2010.
Florence grew close to his heart and he keeps coming back there. “I go there quite often. I know the former president of the club Della Valle very well. I didn't have the chance to meet the current one. Once or twice a year I always go there to watch a match,” said Ujfaluši.
“People love me they recognize me, but it's mainly thanks to social networks, where there are up-to-date photos of how I look. It's not like before. After all, I've just changed a bit. I don't have that long hair anymore. I didn't have any for a while, but now it's grown back a bit,” he pointed out with a smile.
He planned to personally support the Fiorentina team before the final. “I have this planned because there are custodians who were there during my era as well. There is another fitness coach with whom we talked that I will probably come to visit them today,” said Ujfaluši. “I was still in contact with Toni (Barák). I congratulated him on advancing to the final and, of course, on the winning goal,” added Ujfaluši.
According to him, the advancing goal in the extra time of the semi-final rematch in Basel can help Barák a lot. The Czech midfielder has been working in Florence since last summer. “Fiorentina have quite a wide squad. I think his position is not what it used to be, also from the point of view of where he starts. He doesn't get as many shots and goal opportunities. But I feel that it is getting better and better. Also, his goal helped to advance to the final, that will help him. He looks very good there and I believe that next season he will already be one of the main pillars of Fiorentina,” said Ujfaluši.
He is curious to see how the final will unfold in Eden. “Fiorentina likes to play on the ball, hold the ball, try to play. West Ham is rather very strong, they play physically demanding football. Fiorentina has a really strong attacking phase, on the other hand, the defense is not so ideal. It's a final, one game, they can every mistake will decide. We'll see how both teams start,” reflected Ujfaluši.
Fiorentina will play in the cup final for the first time since 1990 and the then defeat against Juventus Turin. “There is great enthusiasm, they haven't fought in the finals for a European title for a long time. After the season in which they didn't make it to the cups, it would be such a satisfaction for the coaching team, players and fans,” Ujfaluši pointed out.
According to the Italian media, approximately nine thousand Fiorentina supporters will arrive in Prague, and at least another 21 thousand spectators are expected to watch the live broadcast of the final from a distance at the stadium in Florence. fans on motorbikes and everything would be waiting for the team and accompany them to the stadium. That's what happened to us when we won against Juventus after 19 long years. Seven thousand fans came to the airport, another 35 thousand were in the stadium. If it had it worked, I believe it would be an incredible experience for the boys,” said Ujfaluši.
He is happy that Italian clubs are doing well this season, having reached each of the three cup finals. “Italy is coming back up a bit. Inter Milan played fantastic games in the Champions League, Fiorentina are in the Conference League, AS Roma lost the Europa League final. It's good that it's not just about the Premier League or the Spanish league and that Italy is peeking back there.” added the former captain of the Czech national team.