Slovakia’s unquestionable No1, despite the strong competition provided by fellow goalkeepers Dusan Kuciak and Dusan Pernis, Jan Mucha is a key player for Slovakia coach, Vladimir Weiss. And with good reason, for the career of the physically imposing shot-stopper has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years. The entire Slovak nation will look to him to lead by example in South Africa this summer, inspiring his defence as they take on some of the world’s best strike forces at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.
That is not to say that Mucha has not experienced adversity in his rise to the top. A native of Bela nad Cirochou, his initial taste of first-team football came at MSK Zilina. With two league titles to his name, acquired in 2003 and 2004, he was tempted by an offer to become the regular keeper at Legia Warsaw in Poland. Unfortunately for Mucha, competition for places in the Polish capital was much tougher than expected, the form of Lukasz Fabianski barring the Slovak from the starting XI. Relegated to appearing in domestic cup competitions, Mucha accepted his role of understudy, hoping that a chance to prove himself would eventually materialise. Following a succession of defeats, that chance was finally offered to him, and he grabbed it with both hands. Despite performing well, he was again dropped in favour of Fabianski towards the end of the season. Fate would then play a hand, however, with the Pole’s departure for Arsenal leaving the way clear for Mucha to make the keeper position his own at Legia.
From that point onwards, Mucha could do no wrong. In 2008, two stunning penalty saves in a shoot-out versus Wisla Krakov won his club the Polish Cup, while in the league his displays got better and better, including 575 minutes without conceding a goal at one point. His fine form was recognised in 2009 with the accolades of Poland’s goalkeeper of the year and best foreign player. This was enough for English Premier League side Everton to come calling, signing him up on a pre-contract basis in January 2010. Mucha will arrive at Goodison Park in June, where competition between the posts will be fierce, but he has been there before.