Tomas Rosicky announced his retirement from professional football on Wednesday, and called up the Arsenal website to send a goodbye message to fans.
Rosicky spent a decade with the Gunners after joining in 2006, but recently returned to Sparta Prague. With tributes pouring in from former teammates, Rosicky called up Arsenal.com to talk about his decision to hang up his boots.
“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,” he explained.
“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.”
The 37-year-old spent his youth career with Sparta Prague, so it was fitting that he should finish his playing days at the club as well. The Czech international told the Arsenal website that he’d hoped it would turn out that way.
“I think it’s a great story that I finished at a club where I basically grew up,” Rosicky admitted. “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.”
The midfielder also wanted to give a message to the fans who supported him for so many years. ‘Super Tom’ was always loved by those following the club, even if he did spend more time on the sidelines than he’d hoped. The Little Mozart clearly hasn’t forgotten all the love sent his way.
“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.”
One thing the former Borussia Dortmund man definitely understood about Arsenal is their rivalry with Tottenham. Sometimes modern players are accused of not getting what it means to play in the local derby, but Rosicky’s three goals in three different wins showed he knew he needed to up his game on the day.
“I always understood the meaning of the derby because we have a big derby here in the Czech Republic with Sparta and Slavia,” Tomas pointed out.
“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.
“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!”
Rosicky joined at the end of a very successful era of Arsenal’s history, and he was unfortunate not to experience that himself in North London. The Gunners had to go through a transition period without much financial backing, and the trophies dried up.
Fortunately, he stuck around long enough to see them return, and says he’s grateful for that:
“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.”
For me, seeing Rosicky’s loyalty rewarded with a trophy was one of the best parts of that FA Cup win. So many others had given up and moved elsewhere for silverware, but the midfielder won one with Arsenal.
It was his goal against Tottenham that helped start the cup run in the first place, so it was fitting that he came on at the end of the final to help secure the win.
Good luck to Tomas in whatever is next in his career, and hopefully he’ll be back at the Emirates someday!