Hector Bellerin and Bernd Leno had some kind words to say to Slavia Prague goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar after his recent head injury, according to their club chairman.
Tensions may be high between Arsenal and Slavia Prague right now, with their Europa League quarter-final tie still very much in the balance, but Hector Bellerin and Bernd Leno showed a touch of class ahead of the first leg.
Opposition goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar started the match in protective headgear, having recently suffered a kick to the face. According to Slavia Prague chairman Jaroslav Tvrdik, Bellerin and Leno assured Kolar he’d be fine in a conversation before the game.
“I was totally blown away by a situation Ondřej Kolář told me about. It rebuilds my trust in English football. In Fair Play,” Tvrdik said.
“Both Arsenal captain (Bellerin) and goalkeeper (Leno) came to him before our game to assure him that he didn’t have to worry about anything after his injury. This is the true value of football.”
It would be remiss of me to ignore the fact that these comments come from Tvrdik at a time when one of his players is being investigated for racist abuse of Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara. No heartwarming story of fair play should diminish that fact.
If anything, the story is an example to emphasise how you can put footballing rivalries on hold when it comes to respect to your fellow professionals. Ondrej Kudela failed to do that, and could learn a lesson from Bellerin and Leno.
We can only hope UEFA make the right decision on Kudela’s case ahead of the second leg.