Juraj Kucka has come a long way since being sidelined by an unfortunate knee injury for a large portion of last year. The Slovak midfield man found the inner strength and perseverance to regain top form at just the right moment. Although he played no part in Slovakia’s 2010 FIFA World Cup™ qualifying campaign, he will still be one of 23 players making the trip to South Africa. And there is a good chance that he will not just be there to make up the numbers.
After all, ‘Kuco’ is a forceful character who is difficult to overlook. He learned his trade in the modest environment of Slovak second division club Podbrezova, making his first full appearance in 2006. A productive start to his football career led to interest from Ruzomberok, who promptly signed the central midfielder the following season. Kucka continued to impress, establishing himself in his new team’s starting XI, as well as that of his nation’s under-21 side. Vladimir Weiss, newly appointed head of Slovakia’s senior side, then called on his services for the first time in November 2008 for a friendly match against Liechtenstein.
It appeared that nothing could stop Kucka’s promising rise, especially when Czech giants Sparta Prague made a move for him two months later during the January transfer window. It was then that he suffered the injury that would force him to watch from afar as the Repre went on a tremendous run to qualify for the FIFA World Cup; their first as an independent nation. Motivated by the thought of representing his country on the greatest possible sporting stage, Kucka came back an even better player than before, driving his Prague team-mates on to win the Czech League title, and securing his place in Weiss’ final Slovakia squad in the process.