I spoke to the excellent football defender, Jakub Brabec, just a few hours prior to a derby between his team Aris Thessaloniki and PAOK, based out of the same city. He was very open about how excited he is for this specific match. Another thing he was candid about is how happy he was that Czech teams were doing well in European championships.
I assume that you were happy about Pilsen making it into the Champions League. Are you not having second thoughts now about transferring from there to Aris Thessaloniki, which was knocked out of contention for the European championships?
I am very happy that Pilsen managed a feat like that. When I played there, I could feel the entire club and city alike waiting for exactly this moment. I was rooting for the boys and I watched all the matches. As for me, I am not one for looking back and what ifs... I regret that we were unable to make it into the championships, but we now have a season ahead of us that could make our way in much easier. It is all up to us now.
In Czechia, you played for Sparta, Brno, and Pilsen. Who are you rooting for the most?
I am a Spartan and always will be. I spent my football childhood in Sparta since I was five years old. I am proud of that. I will always be rooting for Sparta to succeed. Same as how Pilsen just did. Although that is another club that I have grown to love – I have spent a large part of my career there, I even had the honor of being the captain. And so in the last season I was rooting more for Pilsen because I had more friends among the players there. I am also rooting for Brno, which is a club that helped me a lot when I was just starting out.
Are the fans very different in Czechia, Belgium, Turkey, and Greece? At the matches and outside of them?
If I were to tell you the differences between all those cultures, we might be here for a while. I am currently very much enjoying the atmosphere at the Aris home stadium. The fans are incredible – fanatical, devoted. I also like the atmosphere in the city, everyone lives and breathes football and there is an ongoing rivalry between Aris and PAOK. We are excited to see our fans at the stadium for at least a week prior to every derby match. It is hell out there.
What are the aims of Aris Thessaloniki for this season?
Our aims are always the highest – victory, trophies, title, cup. But given the major local competition, things are difficult. Olympiakos, AEK, PAOK, Panathinaikos – all of these are massive clubs. A clear goal we have is getting into the qualifier rounds of the European championships.
Does life in Greece suit you and your family? Your daughter is about to start the first grade of school if I am not mistaken. Will her classes be in English?
Yes, my daughter is just about to start first grade in an international school where they teach in English. We enrolled her in kindergarten in the same place last year so that she would start picking up English a little more. Our entire family is very happy here. Football went well, there is the sea all around, the cuisine is incredible... And we get to meet so many nice people who help us out a lot whenever there is trouble.
What Greek things would you miss in Czechia if you were to come back?
Sunshine everyday, it is something we have become quite used to, there are so few cloudy days here. And the temperature ties into that as well. Also the quality of food, there is a huge difference.
Jakub Brabec (born August 6, 1992, in Brno) is a football center-back of the Greek club, Thessaloniki Aris, as well as the Czech national team.
He started his professional career in Viktoria Žižkov, going on to play for Sparta Prague, Zbrojovka Brno, and Viktoria Pilsen. He has also played in foreign clubs – KRC Genk in Belgium and the Turkish Çaykur Rizespor. He has been playing in the Greek Super League since last year for Aris Thessaloniki.
He is married, he has two children with his wife Kateřina – Natálie (6), and Antonín (2).