Goalkeeper Barbora Votíková came to the national team meeting after a year, she was put off by an unpleasant knee injury last May. She came to the goal in Paris SG, where she has been working since the summer of 2021, for almost the entire season this year, so far her competitor has not let her go. That’s why the Czech goalkeeper liked to play for the national team. “It’s wonderful to be back here among the girls,” confessed the 26-year-old native of Pilsen.
In Thursday’s warm-up match against Morocco (2:0), she kept a clean sheet, in Tuesday’s duel against Austria (0:2), she covered the back of the talented Olivia Lukášová.
How are you enjoying being back among your teammates from the national team?
I am very happy that I could be among the girls again after almost a year. I enjoyed every moment with them. I already needed to get out of the bubble in Paris, where I completed almost the entire rehabilitation. Except for the first month and a half after the operation, when I was with our family.
Do you still remember what your first reaction was when you found out last May that you had a ruptured cruciate ligament in your right knee?
At first I didn’t even feel that way. It wasn’t until the doctor called me and told me the diagnosis that I realized I would be out of football for at least eight months. It was a shock to me, but I had to accept it.
Are there any positives in the forced break? Maybe you got to know Paris better?
I have walked the city a lot. But there are other positives. I don’t really believe in coincidences, so if the injury was meant to happen, it happened. It was a very intense experience for me, which hardened me, and now I take it positively. It opened my eyes to a lot of things, mainly I gained a different perspective on football.
What should I imagine under that?
I want to do it even more intensively than before, because I realized with a serious injury that everything can end suddenly. One wrong step…
A ruptured cruciate ligament is not a pleasant injury for a football player…
(smiles) A lot of people were surprised that I grabbed a cross neck as a goalkeeper. But now these injuries are common in women’s football. It’s probably the difficulty of our sport, it’s much more hard work and the body has certain limits.
Did the treatment go as planned? When did you start thinking about returning to goal?
By the time I got to the field, which was about half a year after the operation, everything was going smoothly. Then various complications started, but now I’m ready again. Although I still have to strengthen my knee, I tape it.
Is a person subconsciously afraid of something?
Not now, but I went through that period. However, I thought I would have a bigger block, but as I went step by step, I didn’t think about it.
But you haven’t started a sharp match for the club yet?
No, I only caught one friend’s halftime. About two months ago. It’s hard to jump into a team in a busy season.
From this I take it that it will be difficult to get back to the position you had at Paris Saint Germain?
(nods his head) Of course, I would like to continue where I left off, but it’s hard to say. I don’t know exactly what my situation is now, my contract in Paris ends after the season. There is a conversation with the coach and the club management. We played the Champions League for a long time, it was a hectic period and my contract was not on the agenda. We’ll deal with it now, I’m not stressing about it. My priority is to extend, but it’s all open, we’ll see.
Did the club provide compensation for your injury?
Last September, Sarah Bouhaddi came to represent me. So the competition is bigger than when I was coming. I completely understand the coach that he doesn’t want to interfere with the team in the middle of the season. They finish the season and then see each other.
How do you get along with your competitor?
For me, Sarah is an inspiration, she is an older, experienced goalkeeper. She won the Champions League with Lyon, in a way I looked up to her. It’s nice to have someone like that by your side.
Can this representative meeting help you personally?
Above all, it’s a sign that I’m back. After eleven months in the gate. I believe that this is an important point where everything will break for the better again.
Even in the national team, you have increased competition, Olivia Lukášová performed brilliantly. How do you take this?
Olí is super, talented and I am very proud of her.
What kept you afloat during the long rehabilitation?
I was motivated to come back better and stronger than I was before the injury.
Are you also working in a top European club and don’t want to go down?
Exactly. I didn’t come this far to quit now. I am determined to rise higher.
Paris SG also has an all-star men’s team. Do you meet Messi, Neymar and Mbappé?
I just saw them recently when I was having a check-up with the doctor at their training center. But otherwise we don’t meet much, they are two separate teams, everyone prepares elsewhere.
But you enjoy life in Paris differently, don’t you?
I really like it here, Paris is beautiful. I love its atmosphere and such elegance here. Although now there are demonstrations here and it is not very advisable to go to the city.
Have you experienced any of them yourself?
No, I live in my football bubble, it doesn’t affect me much. But after one big demonstration, I went to the city. It looked like the horror series The Purge. The traffic lights were not working, there was trash everywhere, something was on fire here and there. She drove the cars as she wanted, everyone honked at each other. It was a complete apocalypse that evening.
So let’s get back to football. What are PSG’s plans for the rest of the season?
We are fighting for the gold with Lyon, we want the title, this year we have a chance. It’s even, we’re just a point behind them and we play them at home in May. Even before that, we face them in the cup final, which we won last year when we eliminated Lyon in the quarter-finals.
What about more significant success in the Champions League?
We have the team for it, but we probably still need time. Last year we were eliminated in the semi-finals with Lyon, this year in the quarter-finals with Wolfsburg. Maybe next time it will come and I’ll be there.
I will return to the rivalry between Paris and Lyon, is it something similar to the one in the Czech Republic between Sparta and Slavia?
Of course, the rivalry is palpable. Fans of both camps are enjoying it. When I ran first in the warm-up last year in Lyon, people booed me.
What is the attendance at the French league anyway?
Not much, about three or four hundred people for an ordinary match. When playing with Lyon, so much more. But thirty thousand spectators came to the Park of the Princes for the Champions League. That was great!
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