Euro star

Gebre Selassie emerges as key player for Czechs

Theodor Gebre Selassie: Put in a fine performance for the Czech Republic against Greece

It is a little over a year since Theodor Gebre Selassie made his debut for the Czech Republic in a friendly against Peru, but in that time he has quickly developed into an international full-back of real quality and was one of the Czech's stand-out performers in their win over Greece on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old has all the qualities needed for the modern game; tall, strong and athletic; he also possesses great stamina and can bound down the flank for the full 90 minutes.

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.

Against Greece in Wroclaw on Tuesday Gebre Selassie was at the forefront of a flying start by the Czechs in a match they simply had to win.

Startled

Nearly all of the Czech Republic's early attacks came down their right flank against a startled Greek full-back Jose Holebas.

After Petr Jiracek had given the Czech's an early lead, one of Gebre Selassie's trademark runs set up the second three minutes later, his teasing low cross evading Greek goalkeeper Kostas Chalkias before being bundled in at the far post by Vaclav Pilar.

The Czech Republic faded badly after the break and began to defend deeper and deeper, perhaps stunned by Petr Cech's inexplicable error for Greece's goal.

Gebre Selassie was one of only a few players who maintained his performance after half-time, showing defensive resilience to repel the Greek attacks while also striving to offer a threat going forward.

Though big clubs are generally wary of buying players on the back of performances in major tournaments, Gebre Selassie is merely maintaining a run of form that began with his decision to stick with football rather than concentrate on his studies in 2005.

His career has been on a steady upward trajectory ever since and it is surely only a matter of time before he makes a big move to one of Europe's elite.