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Monday, 26 July 2010

Whatever Happened to...Tomas Repka

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Hard case defenders are a rare breed these days, with greater protection for ball players but West Ham United acquired an unreconstructed type when Tomas Repka arrived from Fiorentina in 2001.

The Czech international has now racked up seventeen red cards during his career and he got two of them very soon after arriving in the Premier League. After his frantic start he did calm down a little but always looked a player likely to pick up a yellow in every collision.

Repka stayed until 2006 and in periods he was a very good defender. Over time though, his concentration levels wavered and Alan Pardew took to using him as a right back rather than in the centre.

Despite the occasional wobbles West Ham fans gave him a warm send off when he left, possibly because he remained with the club after relegation and through their return to the top fight via the play offs.Always an out and out defender, Repka never netted in any of his 164 League games at Upton Park.

He always looked the part - shaved head and muscular chest to the fore- but anyone who played several seasons in Serie A can play a bit and he was no mug on the deck, though occasionally a bit one-paced.

The big man returned to Sparta Prague in 2006 and at 36 he is still a key man for them. He even won the award as the top personality in the league last season. Tomas Repka led his team to an unbeaten campaign in the Gambrinius Liga and they just pipped Jablonec to the title.

Sparta easily negotiated the second qualifying round of Champions League qualifying and now face Lech Poznan of Poland. The former Hammer still has a strong chance of being in the group stages this year.

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Hugh Larkin



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