Although injuries denied Tomas Rosicky from fulfilling what was expected of him, the ‘Little Mozart’ is still remembered for all the right reasons.
The ‘Little Mozart’ Tomas Rosicky was a special player, but his career will always be tinged with a hint of what might have been.
It was way back in 1998 when the midfielder made his debut for hometown club Sparta Prague before being named ‘Talent of the Year’ in the 1999 Czech Footballer of the Year Awards.
His performances soon attracted the attention of clubs across Europe and he joined Borussia Dortmund in 2001, helping them to the Bundesliga title in his first campaign.
After five impressive years in Dortmund, he moved to Arsenal in 2006, where he would go on to become a fan favourite and star in some memorable moments.
His debut strike in the Champions League against Hamburg was a thing of beauty, showcasing his incredible long-range shooting ability.
He also scored the third goal in Arsenal’s 5-2 win over Tottenham in 2012 and his thunderous strike in the 2014 North London derby at White Hart Lane is another brilliant memory.
But throughout his decade with the Gunners, injury was ultimately what stopped Rosicky flourishing in the way many expected him to after he first arrived.
Over his 10 years he averaged fewer than 25 appearances a season and featured in more than half of the team’s Premier League games in just five of those campaigns.
In two of those seasons – 2008-09 and 2015-16 – he didn’t make any appearances at all.
This is what arguably endeared so many to Tomas Rosicky. Everyone knew he had talent, the commitment, and the drive to make a difference for Arsenal but ultimately his body wouldn’t let him.
Despite not being able to fulfil the lofty achievements that were expected of him, he still left the club as a real favourite among fans and players.
On May 15, he received a guard of honour after Arsenal’s 4–0 final day victory against Aston Villa, with many of the Arsenal squad wearing his ‘Rosicky 7’ shirt.
He did, of course, also win two FA Cups throughout his Gunners career.
Following his time in North London, Tomas Rosicky returned home to the club where it all began, Sparta Prague, a side his father also used to turn out for in the 70s.
However, just a year and a half after returning – and with 13 appearances to his name in that time – Rosicky ended his playing career at the age of 37, citing injuries as the reason behind his decision.
The midfielder’s retirement didn’t mean the end of his time at his boyhood club though.
In January 2018 he became the assistant to new Sparta Prague sporting director Zdenek Scasny and, when Scasny became head coach in December 2018, the Arsenal midfielder replaced him as sporting director.
That’s the position he still holds today as he presides over a club who have built a very capable side in European competition.
So, despite all the injuries and the lows he has faced in his career, Tomas Rosicky is still remembered for all the right reasons.
There aren’t many players to have won 105 international caps, or have 246 Arsenal appearances to their name, but those are the numbers the ‘little Mozart’ can boast.
And, above all, he showed that if you always give 100 per cent regardless off the odds you are facing, the fans will always love you.
You can follow Alasdair on Twitter at @adjhooper1992