Known for his adaptability as much as for his creative playmaking qualities, Jan Kozak has been a fixture in Vladimir Weiss’ Slovakia squads since the coach took over in 2008. On numerous occasions, the Kosice native has repaid Weiss’ vote of confidence via some outstanding performances, none more so than the brilliant performance he produced against Poland last year that sent Slovakia on their way to the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. It is therefore no surprise to see the respected midfielder included in his country’s final group of 23 players for the South African spectacle.
Kozak has been a regular on the international scene since receiving his first cap against Germany in 2005. A natural leader, he has even captained his country on occasion. However, the Slovak’s road to success has been a bumpy one. He turned professional in 1997 with Kosice, but his start was stuttering, with Kozak unable to break into the first team set-up at any point during his initial two seasons. Following an uneventful loan move to Belgian club Lokeren, then a further two ineffective years at Slavia Prague in the Czech Republic, Kozak returned to his home-town club to relaunch his career. This time around, he finally found his feet, scoring six goals in 30 games, attracting the attention of Artmedia Bratislava in the process.
Having moved to the Slovak capital, a rejuvenated Kozak proceeded to enjoy the best moments of his career, triumphing in the Slovak Cup in 2004 and the Slovak Championship in 2005 and 2008, with a short loan period at West Bromwich Albion sandwiched in between. Kozak was at this stage a highly sought-after performer, so much so that Slovan Bratislava wrested him away from their rivals with the tantalising promise of making him their principal playmaker. Glory was to follow the player across the city, as a Kozak-inspired Slovan romped to the 2008/09 league title. Kozak subsequently set himself a new challenge at the beginning of this year by joining Romanian club Timisoara. An even bigger challenge now awaits him in South Africa.