Tomas Rosicky announced his retirement on Wednesday, bringing to an end a career spanning 19 years and spells at three clubs, including a decade with us.
A three-time Czech Footballer of the Year, Tomas won the Czech league twice with hometown club Sparta Prague, before going on to lift the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund in 2002.
A move to us followed in 2006. Over the following decade, Tomas established himself as a firm fans’ favourite in north London, making 246 appearances, scoring 28 times and helping us to win two FA Cups.
Tomas, who made 105 appearances for the Czech Republic between 2000 and 2016, left us in 2016 to re-join Sparta, before taking the decision to retire this week.
Soon after announcing his news, Tomas rang the club requesting to leave one final message for the fans.
Here’s the full transcript of what he said:
Tomas, you’ve taken the decision to retire. How do you feel?
It’s a very difficult decision to make, because if you do something for such a long time and you love it, it’s very difficult to leave it behind you. It was very difficult but I also feel it’s the right decision. My body has been telling me for a long time that it doesn’t want to do it anymore, but the mind was always there to win, to keep playing and to keep pushing forward. We have a winter break here which lasts the whole December. I’ve been starting to prepare for spring and I just felt that I didn’t want to do this anymore. I felt now is the right time to do it. I have to deal with it now because it’s not as easy as everyone maybe thinks it is.
You’re finishing your career at Sparta Prague, where you also started out. When you look back with a bit of distance, do you think you’ll be pleased to have finished up at your boyhood club?
I think it’s a great story that I finished at a club where I basically grew up. It was the plan for me. When I knew I was leaving Arsenal, there was only one place to go so my decision was to come back or to retire. I didn’t want to do anything else. At that time, it fit the bill. I think it’s a lovely story for a very young guy from Prague who spent 16 years abroad to go back and finish the career where he started. It’s a nice story.
Of those 16 years abroad, you spent 10 at Arsenal: 246 appearances, 28 goals, two FA Cups and many memories that stick out…
Yeah, absolutely. For one last time, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at Arsenal Football Club. For me, it’s a fantastic club and it was always an honour for me to play for Arsenal. I always had a special bond with the fans. Every time I played, they knew that I was playing for the shirt. I always played for the shirt because it was an honour for me to represent such a great club like Arsenal. One thing is for sure, I’m a Gunner forever.
We imagine part of the reason they loved you so much was because of your record against Tottenham. You really seemed to love playing against them and scoring against them too…
I always understood the meaning of the derby because we have a big derby here in the Czech Republic with Sparta and Slavia. Later on I played for Dortmund against Schalke, which is similar to Arsenal v Tottenham. From a very young age, I understood the meaning of the derby and that helped me as well when it came to the fans, because I was able to score some lovely goals against Tottenham.
Three goals against Tottenham, all brilliant in their own right. Have you got a favourite at all?
I have to say I very much enjoyed all of them. They were all special goals, not only because it was in a derby and meant so much to the fans, but as well because those goals were simply great goals!
During your decade here, we won the FA Cup in 2014, by which time you’d been here for eight years. You played such an important role in extra-time of that final. That must have been really special for you…
Yeah, that’s what I wanted - to win a trophy with Arsenal. There’s a regret that we didn’t win the Premier League, but after such a long time, it was a great moment. For the fans as well, the connection between the players and the fans that day was absolutely amazing. I’m repeating myself but I’ve enjoyed every minute playing for Arsenal because it’s an amazing club. I always loved to play for Arsène Wenger and for his vision of how football should be played. It was absolutely great.
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