Euro 2012 had an awful start for Czech Republic rightback Theodor Gebre Selassie as his side lost 4-1 to Russia in a match where he became the tournament's first player to be racially abused by fans. "I've experienced much worse," said Gebre Selassie of the abuse that is now being investigated by UEFA. Eager to move on from the incident without much discussion, the 25-year-old was again spotlighted during the Czechs' second Group A match, but this time for his transfer baiting performance.
Gebre Selassie starred in the 2-1 win over Greece, running for days and setting up Vaclav Pilar for the Czech Republic's second goal in the first six minutes of the game. Making his performance all the more fun is the fact that he almost quit football altogether six years ago to pursue a degree in civil protection. From Sky Sports:
It all could have been so different when he was playing for Czech Second Division side Jihlava in the 2005-06 season and was loaned out to Velke Mezirici, down in the fourth division.
A then teenage Gebre Selassie contemplated giving up the game completely and concentrating on his studies at university. Luckily for Czech football he decided to carry on.
He joined Slavia Prague in 2007, winning the Czech first division title the following year, before moving to Slovan Liberec in 2008. His performances in Poland and the Ukraine suggest it won't be long before the big guns come calling.
Still with Slovan Liberec, Gebre Selassie has earned 12 caps since becoming the Czech Republic's first black player last year (his father is Ethiopian, his mother Czech). In the interest of knowing him a little better, here are a few morsels of information I just made up about him:
-He once put Nutella inside Petr Cech's helmet. Cech liked so much that he has continued to do it ever since.
-He hums songs from The Legend of Zelda video game series while playing football just to make the matches seem more intense.
-Has a strong dislike for confetti.
-His interest in civil protection is firmly rooted in a desire to be prepared for the impending zombie apocalypse.
-Has never seen a Burt Reynolds movie.