Bruckner's last symphony
© AFP

Appropriately for a man who shares a surname with one Austrian classical composer, Czech Republic coach Karel Bruckner is a devotee of another Austrian composer in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

However the 68-year-old Czech could be about to compose his last starting XI for the UEFA EURO 2008 Group A clash with Turkey on Sunday. Defeat would mean the Czechs going home and Bruckner stepping down, which he is going to do whenever their interest in the tournament ends, thus bringing down the curtain on his seven-year reign.

The chess-mad coach handled the moment when he announced he would be stepping down - having taken the Czechs to three successive major finals, including the EURO 2004 semi-finals - in typically laconic style.

"After 34 years work as a coach, I have opted for another way of life," said Bruckner at the end of March.

Although Bruckner is never one for outwardly showing his emotions, he strikes quite a persona on the sidelines with his long flowing silver hair, his craggy lived-in features and his husky voice (the result of many years of smoking). He acknowledges that Sunday could be his final day in the hot seat.

"It will be special, but maybe there will be more opportunities," said Bruckner.

He will soon be returning to his farm in Hlubocky, some 20 kilometres from his birthplace of Olomouc, where he stayed for most of his footballing career both as a player and then as coach of Sigma Olomouc, and contenting himself with his other hobby of gardening.

Bruckner has earned the devotion of his players; some critics would say that he has been too loyal to some, such as Milan Baros, that have known better days. His charges have nicknamed him 'Klekhi Petra', after a character that features in the book 'Winnetou' written by 19th century German author Karl May.

"He has a natural authority and is a remarkable character," said defender Tomas Ujfalusi.

Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech said that he is a master strategist. "Most of the time, matches play out just as he predicted," said the Chelsea goalkeeper.

For playmaker and captain Tomas Rosicky, who is injured and unable to play at EURO 2008, Bruckner's attention to detail stunned him when he was given his first cap.

"When we arrived in the dressing-room, each player had attached to the wall where his kit was a dossier with specific tactical advice on his opponent!"

Evidently, Bruckner will be burning the midnight oil in the coming days as he compiles what could be his final dossier.