There was no holding Manfred Petz back after the final whistle in the semi-final against Schalke. The 57-year old goalkeeping coach, commonly known as ‘Moppes’, ran the length of the pitch to embrace one player in particular whose efforts kept Eintracht Frankfurt in the match: Lukas Hradecky. The 28-year old Finland goalkeeper made three or four exceptional saves to ensure that his team would reach the final. Hradecky has been the most impressive goalkeeper in this year’s DFB Cup, having only conceded one goal against 1.FC Heidenheim in their 2-1 victory against the 2.Bundesliga side in the last sixteen. “I am so pleased for Lukas,” said Moppes Petz after the semi-final victory celebrations, however the last few weeks have not been easy for him.
Hradecky made his first major slip-up in the Bundesliga match against Werder Bremen earlier this season. In an attempt to gather the ball, he let it slip through his hands which granted Werder Bremen a late winner. Hradecky was harsh on himself for making such a crucial mistake and this was evident in their next few matches. The mistake was clearly affecting him more than he wanted it to. “Give me a few weeks and I’ll be back to my best,” he insisted. He spent a lot of time discussing his goalkeeping with Moppes Petz - former FSV Mainz 05 goalkeeper – which helped him to get back into form. “The old Lukas never left. He just went on holiday,” he added.
For three years now, Lukas Hradecky has been a familiar face in the Bundesliga. The goalkeeper, who speaks Slovakian, Finnish, Danish, German and English fluently, has played 101 out of a possible 102 matches in goal for Frankfurt during this time. He only missed out once after receiving a suspension for handling the ball outside the area. He is a name you would otherwise always expect to be on the team sheet and regularly helps his team with his impressive performances. He rarely makes big mistakes. He is a reliable keeper who is particularly strong in one-on-one situations.
Eintracht have a lot to thank Hradecky for, who arrived in Frankfurt from Bröndby IF relatively unknown and has since advanced to become one of the best goalkeepers in the league. With his contract now due to run out in the summer, Hradecky will take a different path and be transferred. However, Eintracht have already found a successor in Frederik Rönnow to fill Hradecky’s shoes. It was the club’s wish to extend the contract of their 36-year-old France international. Frankfurt were prepared to offer a very large salary but Hradecky and his agent, his father Vladimir, rejected all offers.
The Cup final in Berlin will be Hradecky’s farewell match. It will be a bitter-sweet affair since the goalkeeper has told of his happiness in the city and at the club, where he is highly respected and is held in the highest regard. “It would be the perfect way to go out, being able to lift the trophy this time around,” said the optimistic Finn. He can certainly be relied on to hold his own between the posts. He also knows the Cup final atmosphere best, having experienced this during his side’s defeat to Borussia Dortmund in Berlin last season. Hradecky does not need to be told the importance of his role. “I am the last man with the biggest responsibility on the pitch,” he admitted. However, he also added: “I do not fear that.”