The Czech Republic have been crying out for a new hero to worship ever since Pavel Nedved and Tomas Rosicky hung up their boots, and they may finally have one on their hands.
Patrik Schick has become the breakout star of Euro 2020 after claiming four goals in four games – taking his overall international tally to 15 goals in 30 matches.
The Bayer Leverkusen forward has also captured the nation’s hearts by helping the Czech Republic win their first knockout stage game since Euro 2004 by beating the Netherlands 2-0.
Schick has established himself as a defender’s worst nightmare going into Saturday’s Baku quarter-final clash against Denmark and taken on the responsibility of firing the Czech Republic into the semi-finals.
Patrik Schick has become the breakout star of Euro 2020 with the Czech Republic this summer
Schick has spearheaded the Czech Republic into a new era after shining in the opening stages of the European competition.
Having scored four goals in as many games, Schick has already equalled Vladimir Smicer’s overall Euro record and needs just one goal to sit alongside Milan Baros.
However, Schick has played down his chances of emulating Baros – who is the Czechs’ all-time leading marksman after his Golden Boot-winning five strikes in 2004.
‘It is not a big topic for me – the main thing is the team’s success,’ said Schick when asked about being one goal behind Cristiano Ronaldo in the Euro 2020 Golden Boot race.
Czech Republic have been waiting for a new star since the retirements of Nedved and Rosicky
However, it seems the wait is over with Schick claiming four goals in four games at Euro 2020
He added: ‘My aim is not to win the Golden Boot but to help my team get as far as possible. I am not that interested in how many goals I will have scored by the end.’
Nevertheless, Schick will be looking to replicate Baros’ heroics against the Danes this weekend and fire his side into the semi-finals.
When the Czechs last faced Denmark in the 2004 quarter-finals, Baros bagged two outstanding goals to see his country win the game 3-0.
Now averaging a goal every two games for the national side, Schick will be hoping to repeat history in Baku and keep his country’s European hopes alive.
Schick will be heading into Saturday’s quarter-final feeling confident in his ability to deliver – having already scored several sensational goals this tournament.
Schick is also one goal away from sitting alongside Czech record holder Milan Baros (right)
He will look to reach that record by helping fire the Czech Republic into the semi-finals
The 25-year-old’s most notable strike came against Scotland when he lobbed David Marshall from distance in one of the goals of the tournament.
The Bayer Leverkusen forward had already scored an impressive header just before the break to give the Czech Republic the lead, but it was what happened next that silenced the Scotland fans at Hampden Park.
Having blocked a long-range effort from Scotland’s Jack Hendry, the Czech Republic played the ball out to Schick who picked it up on the halfway line. The striker saw goalkeeper David Marshall 30 yards off his line and went for goal.
Schick combined the perfect balance of power and accuracy to play the ball over Marshall’s head and leave the keeper tangled in the back of his own net as he raced back to clear the ball.
He will confident about delivering after scoring a sensational goal against Scotland
He lobbed keeper David Marshall from 50 yards out in the group stages of the tournament
The goal was the furthest distance from which a strike has been scored on record at the European Championship since 1980. In addition, it may have also secured Schick the goal of the 2020 tournament despite being halfway through the competition.
Speaking of his goal, Schick said: ‘I checked already in the first half, for maybe when this situation will come: I knew he stayed very high [off his line], so when the ball came, I just did a quick check, where is he standing, I saw him off his line, so I tried’.
Schick has also shown his grit and determination to see the Czech Republic succeed after scoring the all-important goal in their 1-1 draw against Croatia during the group stages at the competition.
He took an elbow to the face when he and Dejan Lovren challenged for a ball in the air. The 25-year-old – who fell to the floor with a bloody nose – was awarded a penalty after a video review.
He has also shown his grit and determination after scoring a penalty with a bloody nose
That goal saw him go one behind Cristiano Ronaldo in the top scorer standings at Euro 2020
With blood still dripping from his nose, Schick stepped up to take the penalty and secure what was his third goal of the tournament.
Roman Pivarnik, the coach who gave Schick his first opportunity in the Czech top flight at Bohemians Prague, believes the penalty epitomises the striker.
‘Even when he got fouled and they had to stop the bleeding from his nose, he decided to take the penalty. It was a great example of his self-confidence,’ Pivarnik previously told Sportsmail.
Looking ahead to Saturday’s quarter-final with Denmark it is believed the Czech Republic hold the upper hand going into the game.
He has also scored internationally against Denmark at U21 level, in a 4-2 defeat in 2017
The Czech Republic and Denmark have met on 25 previous occasions, with the Czechs recording 13 wins and only two defeats. However, five of the last six fixtures between the sides have ended all square.
Nevertheless, should the game end in a draw, the Czech Republic have won all of their three competitive penalty shoot-outs while Demark have registered two wins and two losses.
Schick will be eager to stop their clash in Baku from going to spot kicks and will look to do so by adding to his already impressive tally.