Livorno’s War Horse

Full Name: Libor Kozák

Birth Date: 30 May 1989

Place of Birth: Czechoslovakia

Playing Years: 2001 to present

Position(s): Striker

Football Club (Current): Livorno

Award:

UEFA Europa League top scorer: 2012–13

Formative Years

Kozak spent whole of his youth career in the Czech club FC Opava. He played as a junior for the club from 2001-2006 until he was promoted to the first team in 2007. He was a potential, being a prolific goalscorer in the Czech Second Division. In his first year as senior, he scored his first hat-trick leading to Opava’s 5-1 victory over FC Zenit Čáslav in the same league.

Professional Career

In 2008, Kozak tried to enter the Premier League through Portsmouth FC, but he ended up in the Italian Serie A instead when he signed for SS Lazio in July 2008 for a rumoured €1.2 million. By May of the following year, he made his Serie A debut as a substitute to Mauro Zárate in a match against Inter Milan. After the season, Lazio loaned him to the Serie B club Brescia Calcio for the 2009-10 season to have his form developed.

At the end of the Serie B season, Kozak was returned to Lazio with a greatly improved form. He scored his first goal for the Biancocelesti, helping his team win in a match against Fiorentina. He made a great deal of scores which helped Lazio win matches against Sampdoria and another with Fiorentina.

In the 2012-13 season, Kozak competed in the Serie A and the UEFA Europa League. Despite his great performance for the latter being named the top goal scorer of the league’s season, he failed to net any goal across 19 appearances in the Serie A.

By the end of the season, Kozak departed Lazio for the English club Aston Villa FC for a €6.5 million transfer fee. His time with the club greatly improved his form further. He scored the only goal in a winning match against Norwich City, and help the team reach victory in a match over Cardiff City, and another two against Southampton and Stoke City. In the middle of the season, he was withdrawn due to an injury in his right leg while training. Over five months later, he made his last match for the season, netting the starting goal.  Kozak, however, spent his last days with the club trying to recover from the leg injury.

The Czech striker once admitted that he always wanted to step in the Premier League. Kozak, nonetheless, upon his release from Aston Villa, ended up again in Serie B, this time, with SSC Bari. He became stagnant in his time with Bari, with no further progress in his performance. He went again to the spotlight when he joined fellow Serie B Livorno.

The Czech athlete was also called up to his country’s national team when they had noticed his performance, representing in the 2011 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship. He was called up to the senior team in the same year.

Style of Play
Kozak is not the most powerful striker out there, but he is, at least, in the Serie B league. His strength, nevertheless, lies in his stealth and speed, which earned him the name ‘War Horse’ when he was still in Aston Villa. As he retained the rare brilliance of his form, his moniker still stands true to this day.

By @EliaasMJ

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