Marek Jankulovski (Czech pronunciation: [ˈmarɛk ˈjaŋkulofskɪ]; born 9 May 1977) is a retired Czech footballer who played as a defender. His most notable achievements include winning the UEFA Champions League with A.C. Milan and being voted the 2007 Czech Footballer of the Year. He earned 77 caps for the Czech Republic, and represented them at three European Championships, the 2000 Olympics and the 2006 World Cup.
Jankulovski playing for Milan in 2007
|Date of birth||9 May 1977|
|Place of birth||Ostrava, Czechoslovakia|
|Height||1.84 m (6 ft 1⁄2 in)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
A quick, tenacious, and hardworking player, he was well known for his versatility, being able to play anywhere on the left side, and was used as a full-back, as a wing-back, and as a winger throughout his career. He was also known for his ability to cross the ball, as well as his considerable technical ability and energetic attacking runs down the left flank.
Jankulovski started his career for Baník Ostrava. In 1994, he made a breakthrough into the first team, as Ostrava finished in third place in the league. In the 1997–1998 season Ostrava came fourth in the Czech First League. He finished his time at Ostrava with a total of 110 league appearances. He then moved to Italy to play for Napoli in 2000.
In the season 1999–00, Jankulovski scored 8 goals in 27 games, which made foreign clubs aware of him. After a recommendation of Zdeněk Zeman, he joined Napoli. After his first season in Serie A his club were relegated in the summer of 2001 to Serie B, where he played in the 2001–02 season.
On 1 February 2002, Jankulovski joined Udinese in a transfer worth €3.5 million, and was loaned back to Napoli. At Udinese, his talent could be expressed, as he became a key element of the team. He played 104 games and scored 17 goals with Udinese. With the shirt also debuted Udinese in the UEFA club competitions competing in four games in the UEFA Cup.
In June 2005 Jankulovski was unveiled as a Milan player after signing for an undisclosed fee from Udinese. Jankulovski could not start playing immediately, due to a broken ankle sustained in the May 2005 Coppa Italia semi final against A.S. Roma. Jankulovski struggled to find form in his first season but was one of Milan's best players during the 2006–07 season, making 50 appearances for the team in all competitions, scoring three goals, including one from 25 yards against Livorno. On 23 May 2007, he took part in 2–1 victory in the final of the UEFA Champions League against Liverpool. He also scored the second goal of Milan's victory against Sevilla in the 2007 UEFA Super Cup held on 31 August 2007 with a volley, following a pass from Andrea Pirlo.
In the 2009–10 Winter Transfer period, Milan were said to have offered Jankulovski to F.C. Internazionale Milano in exchange for Mancini. Jankulovski refused to move to Inter, he later said that betraying Milan was not an option, stating, "Truth be told, I didn’t give it much thought… I wanted to stay at Milan, I’ve been here for five years and I’m settled."
In April 2011, Jankulovski had surgery on his knee, causing him to miss the rest of the season of 2010–11 Serie A Season. Jankulovski was a part of the A.C. Milan squad that won the Serie A title for the first time since the 2003–04 season. Following A.C. Milan's league title victory, Jankulovski was finally released on a free transfer after five years at the club. Jankulovski announced it would be his final season for A.C. Milan as he intended to return to the Czech Republic to close out his career.
Return to Baník OstravaEdit
In October 2011, Jankulovski returned to play club football in the Czech Republic for the first time since leaving Baník Ostrava for Italy 11 years before. In his first game after his move, Jankulovski managed just eight minutes after coming on as a substitute before suffering a knee injury and leaving the pitch. On 20 February 2012, he announced his retirement due to not being able to recover from his knee injury.
With the Czech Republic national football team, Jankulovski took part in the 2000, 2004, and 2008 European Championships, as well as the 2006 World Cup. He earnt 77 caps for the Czech national side, scoring 11 goals. He was named the Czech Footballer of the Year in 2007.
His father, Pando Jankulovski, is a Macedonian who emigrated to Czechoslovakia from Yugoslavia. Marek's mother is Czech. Marek is married to Jana Jankulovska and they have two daughters together, Karolína and Kristýna. He is also a member of the team Real Top Praha in whose jersey participates in charity games and events. Because of his Macedonian root, he is one of the most popular Macedonian footballers.
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