Josef Bican
Josef Bican 1940.jpg
Personal information
Full name Josef Bican
Date of birth (1913-09-25)25 September 1913
Place of birth Vienna, Austria-Hungary
Date of death 12 December 2001(2001-12-12) (aged 88)
Place of death Prague, Czech Republic
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)[1]
Position(s) Forward
Youth career
Slovan Vienna
1927–1928 Hertha Vienna [de]
1928–1930 Schustek
1930–1931 Farbenlutz
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1931 Farbenlutz 2 (2)
1931 Rapid Amateur 0 (0)
1931–1935 Rapid Vienna 62 (78)
1935–1937 Admira Vienna 26 (18)
1937–1948 Slavia Prague 221 (427)
1948–1951 FC Vítkovice 58 (74)
1951–1952 FC Hradec Králové[a] 26 (53)
1952–1955 Dynamo Prague 32 (22)
1957 TJ Slovan Liberec 1 (0)
1957 Spartak Brno ZJŠ 4 (2)
Total 432 (676)
National team
1933–1936 Austria 19 (14)
1938–1949 Czechoslovakia 14 (12)
1939 Bohemia and Moravia 1 (3)
Teams managed
1954–1956 Slavia Prague
1956–1959 TJ Slovan Liberec
1957–1958 Spartak Brno ZJŠ
1959–1960 TJ Spartak ZJS Brno
1963–1964 TJ Baník Příbram
1964 FC Hradec Králové
1967–1969 SONP Kladno
1969–1972 KSK Tongeren
1977 Benešov
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

Josef "Pepi" Bican (25 September 1913 – 12 December 2001) was an Austrian-Czech professional footballer who played as a striker. He is the second-most prolific goalscorer in official matches in recorded history according to Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation (RSSSF), with over 950 goals scored in 624 matches.[2]

According to RSSSF, Bican scored over 1813 total goals in over 1089 total matches.[3] In total Bican scored 1137 goals in more than 514 games for Slavia Praha including friendlies, with a ratio of 1.79 goals per game across his almost 15-year career at the club in total.[4]

Bican began his professional career at Rapid Vienna in 1931. After four years at Rapid, he moved to local rivals Admira Vienna. Bican won four league titles during his time in Austria,[5][6] moved to Slavia Praha in 1937, where he stayed until 1948, and became the club's all-time top goalscorer.[7] He later played for FC Vitkovice, FC Hradec Králové, and Dynamo Praha, retiring in 1955 as the all-time top goalscorer in the Czechoslovak First League with 447 goals.[8]

Bican was a member of the Austrian Wunderteam of the 1930s and represented the nation at the 1934 FIFA World Cup, where they reached the semi-finals. He later switched allegiance to the Czechoslovakia national football team, but a clerical error related to his transfer of national team precluded him from playing in the 1938 FIFA World Cup. Bican was a tall and powerful player,[9] with the technical ability to play with both feet,[10] and had considerable pace. During his athletic prime, he was reportedly capable of running 100 metres in 10.8 seconds, which was not far off the leading sprinters of his time.[11]

After his retirement from playing, Bican became a manager, and coached various teams from the 1950s until the 1970s. In 1998, Bican was given a "Medal of Honour" by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) for being among the world's most successful top division goalscorers of all time.[12] In 2000, the IFFHS awarded Bican the "Golden Ball" in recognition of his status as the greatest goalscorer of the 20th century. The award was based on how many times a player had been top scorer in his domestic league, a feat which Bican achieved 12 times.[5][13]

Early life

Bican was born in Vienna to František and Ludmila Bican. He was the second of three children.[14] František was from Sedlice in Southern Bohemia, and Ludmila was Viennese Czech. Josef's father František was a footballer who played for Hertha Vienna. He fought in World War I and returned uninjured. However, František died at the early age of 30 in the year 1921 after refusing an operation to treat a kidney injury sustained in a football match. His mother worked in a restaurant kitchen.

The family's poverty meant that Bican initially had to play football without shoes, which helped him improve his ball control skills. Bican attended the Jan Amos Komenský school, a Czech school in Vienna. In 1925, four years after his father's death, twelve-year-old Bican started to play for the Hertha Vienna junior team, Hertha Vienna II. When he was 18, Bican was spotted by Rapid Vienna, who were a big club in the city at the time.[15][16]

Club career

In 1931, when Bican first joined Rapid, he received 150 schillings, but, by the age of 20, Rapid wanted to keep him so much that they paid him 600 schillings.[10] In his debut game against Austria Vienna, club where Matthias Sindelar played, Bican scored four goals in a victory 5–3.[17] Bican won the Austrian title with Rapid in 1934–35 and his first goalscoring title, but by the end of the season, he had been suspended after refusing to sign a new contract and Bican decided to go on strike. Through one of his uncles, a deal was done with Admira Vienna, at the time the most successful side in Austrian history. Rapid however refused to release his registration, and Bican went nine months without playing a game. When he was allowed to leave, Bican won championships in both his seasons with the Vienna club, but his heart was set on his family's homeland.[15]

During 1937, Bican left Vienna to join Czech club Slavia Prague.[14] Bican was the top scorer in his first season, but Slavia finished as runner-up. The following season, in March 1939, Germany invaded Czechoslovakia and football split on similar lines, with Bohemian and Moravian clubs carrying their results from the Czechoslovak league into the new Bohemian-Moravian league. Bican was again the top scorer of the league but Sparta Prague, Slavia's greatest rival, won the championship again.[15] The third year (1941) the first of Bican's four championships came with the third of the continuous 10 goalscoring titles. He played for Slavia throughout World War II, while many of his football rivals were at war. During eight league seasons he scored 328 goals, including 57 in 26 matches one particular season (1943–44).[18] Three times in his career, Bican scored seven goals in a game.[19] In a 1939–40 league match against Zlín, Bican found the net seven times as Slavia ran out 10–1 winners.[19] During the 1939–40 season, he set a world record for the longest goal-scoring streak in a European top division when he scored at least one goal for 19 games in a row, netting a total of 47 goals over his run that included hat-tricks in 5 back-to-back league games. His record stood for 73 years until it was broken in 2013 by Lionel Messi (21 games in the Spanish league).[20] During the 1940–41 season, Bican matched his feat of the previous season, again against Zlín, scoring seven times, as Slavia won by a 12–1 scoreline.[19] It was 1947–48 before Bican managed his third seven-goal match, as Slavia defeated České Budějovice in a game which finished 15–1.[19]

He was in the leagues that he played, the top-scorer 12 times during his 25-year professional career and Europe's and the world's top scorer in five consecutive seasons, from 1939–40 to 1943–44, a record that still stands.[18][21]

After the war several of Europe's big clubs were interested in signing Bican. Italian side Juventus were very keen and offered Bican handsome terms. He was advised that there was a big chance the Communists could take over in Italy, but what actually happened was the opposite. When the Communists came to power in Czechoslovakia in 1948, Bican refused to join the Communist Party, just as before the war he had refused to join the Nazi Party in Austria.[22] Josef Bican's image had established him as one of the biggest names in the country's society. But his happy days were soon to be over. The communist government wanted to use Bican as a propaganda weapon. When he refused to be a puppet, the Czechoslovak authorities put it about that Bican was a bourgeois Viennese, ignoring his plea that his origins were humble.[23]

Bican tried to improve his standing with the Communists[10] by joining steel works Železárny Vítkovice. During 1952, he joined FC Hradec Králové,[a] where he managed to score 53 goals in 26 matches.[24] On 1 May 1953, the Communist Party forced him to leave the city and, therefore, the club. After being forced to leave, he returned to Slavia Prague, or, as it was known then, Dynamo Prague. He continued to play for Dynamo until retiring from playing at the age of 42 in 1955. He was the oldest player in the league at that time.[22]

Career statistics

Clubs

Club Div. Season League Cup Other Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Farbenlutz VAFÖ 1931 2 2 2 2
Total Farbenlutz 2 2 0 0 0 0 2 2
S.K Rapid Amateur Amt. 1931 2 3 2 3
Rapid Wien 1 1931–32 8 10 3 3 11 13
1932–33 16 11 2 6 18 17
1933–34 22 29 5 5 3 1 30 35
1934–35 3 4 3 4
Total Rapid 49 54 12 17 3 1 64 72
Admira Vienna 1 1935–36 15 8 2 3 2 2 19 13
1936–37 11 10 11 10
Total Admira 26 18 2 3 2 2 30 23
SK Slavia Prague 1 1936–37 1 4 1 4
1937–38 19 26 8 10 1 4 28 40
1938–39 20 29 2 2 22 31
1 1939–40 22 50 3 5 1 1 26 56
1940–41 22 38 5 11 4 7 31 56
1941–42 22 45 5 10 3 8 30 63
1942–43 20 39 1 0 3 7 24 46
1943–44 26 57 1 3 5 16 32 76
1 1944–45 9 16 6 20 15 36
1945–46 16 31 1 1 17 32
1946–47 23 44 1 1 24 45
1947–48 13 20 13 20
1948–49 9 30 7 21
Total Slavia 221 425 32 65 19 45 272 535
Sokol Vítkovice Železárny 2 1949 17 44 17 44
1 1950 23 22 23 22
1951 18 8 18 8
Total Vítkovice 58 74 0 0 0 0 58 74
FC Hradec Králové[a] 2 1952 26 53 4 7 30 60
Total Hradec Králové 26 53 4 7 0 0 30 60
Dynamo Praha 1 1953 10 7 10 7
1954 14 11 14 11
1955 8 4 8 4
Total Dynamo 32 22 0 0 0 0 32 22
FC Slovan Liberec 3 1957 1 0 1 0
Total Liberec 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
FC Zbrojovka Brno 4 1957 4 2 4 2
Total Zbrojovka 4 2 0 0 0 0 4 2
Career total 419 650 45 85 24 48 488 783
Sources: Rapid Wien - Slavia Praha - HistoricalLineups - IFFHS - Český a československý fotbal - RSSSF - Bican data - ARFTS - ARFTS2 - ARFTS3 - ARFSH - ARFSH2

International career

On 29 November 1933, aged 20 years and 64 days, Bican made his debut for Austria in a 2–2 draw against Scotland. He later played for them at the 1934 World Cup, when the Austrian Wunderteam reached the semifinals. His solitary goal in the tournament came in extra time of Austria's 3–2 win over France.[25]

At the time Bican was playing for Slavia Prague, he applied for Czechoslovak citizenship. However, when he eventually became a Czechoslovak citizen, he discovered that a clerical error meant he couldn't play at the 1938 World Cup. In total, he scored 29 goals in 34 international matches for three national teams (Austria, Czechoslovakia and Bohemia & Moravia). His final national team appearance was for Czechoslovakia in a 3–1 defeat against Bulgaria on 4 September 1949.[26]

However, his success did have a disadvantage. Other members of the team became jealous of the tall, handsome Bican's success, and he was sometimes called abusive names, such as "Austrian bastard".[27]

In addition to representing Austria, Czechoslovakia and the region of Bohemia & Moravia, Bican also played a number of fixtures playing for teams consisting of the best players from a league or town between 1939 and 1949. For the Bohemia-Moravia league team in 1939 he played six games scoring nine goals, for the Bohemia league team in 1940–1944 he played eight games scoring 11 goals, for Prague from 1938 to 1948 he played six games scoring one goal and Ostrava in 1949 he played one game scoring one goal, bringing Bican's total number of official goals outside of club football to 48 goals in 54 games.[7]

International goals

Goals for Austria

Austria's goal tally[25]

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 10 December 1933 Olympic Stadium, Amsterdam, Netherlands  Netherlands 1–0 1–0 Friendly
2. 11 February 1934 Charmilles Stadium, Geneva, Switzerland   Switzerland 1–0 3–2 1933–35 Dr. Gero Cup
3. 3–2
4. 15 April 1934 Hohe Warte Stadium, Vienna, Austria  Hungary 4–2 5–2 Friendly
5. 5–2
6. 27 May 1934 Stadio Benito Mussolini, Turin, Italy  France 3–1 3–2 1934 FIFA World Cup
7. 6 October 1935 Praterstadion, Vienna, Austria  Hungary 1–1 4–4 1933–1935 Dr.Gero Cup
8. 2–2
9. 3–4
10. 19 January 1936 Estadio Metropolitano de Madrid, Madrid, Spain  Spain 3–3 5–4 Friendly
11. 26 January 1936 Campo da Constituição, Porto, Portugal  Portugal 3–1 3–2 Friendly
12. 22 March 1936 Praterstadion, Vienna, Austria  Czechoslovakia 1–1 1–1 1936–37 Dr. Gero Cup
13. 5 April 1936 Praterstadion, Vienna, Austria  Hungary 1–1 3–5 Friendly
14. 2–3

Goals for Czechoslovakia

Czechoslovakia's goal tally[26][25]

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 7 August 1938 Råsunda Stadium, Stockholm, Sweden  Sweden 2–0 6–2 Friendly
2. 3–0
3. 5–2
4. 28 August 1938 Stadion Concordije, Zagreb, Kingdom of Yugoslavia  Yugoslavia 2–0 3–1 1937-38 Eduard Benes Cup[28]
5. 4 December 1938 AC Sparta Stadion, Praha, Czechoslovakia  Romania 1–2 6–2
6. 3–2
7. 4–2
8. 6–2
9. 11 May 1947  Yugoslavia 1–0 3–1 Friendly
10. 3–1
11. 31 August 1947  Poland 1–0 6–3
12. 2–0

Goals for Bohemia and Moravia

Bohemia and Moravia's goal tally[26][25]

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 12 November 1939 Hermann Göring Stadium, Wroclaw, Nazi Germany  Germany 1–0 4–4 Friendly
2. 3–0
3. 4–2

Life after retirement

Tombstone of Bican at Prague's Vyšehrad cemetery
Tombstone of Bican at Prague's Vyšehrad cemetery
Bican's grave, plus a headstone for his wife Jarmila, who died exactly ten years after him
Bican's grave, plus a headstone for his wife Jarmila, who died exactly ten years after him

During the spring of 1968, Bican was told that he would be allowed to have a coaching job abroad. He impressed the Belgian team Tongeren and they hired him as a coach, where he had some success taking them from Division 4 to Division 2.

Around this time, Pelé was getting ready for his 1000th goal and many journalists were searching for another player who had scored a thousand goals. Former Austrian player Franz "Bimbo" Binder suggested Bican, who he claimed to have scored over 5000 goals in all competitions.[27] When reporters asked Bican why he had not sought more attention for his goalscoring feats, he simply said, "who'd have believed me if I said I'd scored five times as many goals as Pelé?" However, to score over 5000 goals he should have kept an average of 185 goals/year along all his 27 years of career, but only counting goals in official matches, Bican scored at least 950 goals.[7] Bican's goal-scoring feats are often forgotten because he did not make a big fuss about it in the media. His record is often overshadowed by Pelé's 1303 goal record, including goals in unofficial matches. But shortly before his death in 2001, IFFHS based on RSSSF statistics declared Bican with 643 league goals, the most prolific scorer of the 20th century.[29][30] This was judged by the number of times a player had been top scorer in his domestic league. Bican managed this feat 12 times, more than any other player in football history.[5]

In the 1990s, Bican spoke to Czech TV about the difficulty of scoring during his era: "When I talk to young reporters, they always say, 'Mr Bican, scoring was easier back in your day.' But I ask them, 'How come? Look, are there opportunities today?' And they tell me, 'Of course there are, many of them'. And I say, 'There you go. If there weren't opportunities, it would be difficult. But if there are, scoring is the same as it was a hundred years ago, and will be the same in a hundred years' time, too. It will always be the same."[30][13]

"Bican was incredibly unlucky at the height of his career. There was no World Cup in 1942 or 1946 because of the war. If the 1942 edition had taken place, for example, he would surely have become more widely known. Perhaps he might even have been as famous as Pele", Radovan Jelinek, sports historian said about him.[11]

Josef Bican spent the last few months of his life in hospital with heart problems. He had hoped to be home for Christmas, but died less than 2 weeks before that, at the age of 88. In September 2013, which would have been Bican's 100th birthday, Slavia Prague commemorated him by wearing shirts that featured a replica of his signature on them.[9]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b c The club was known as Sokol Škoda by 1952.

References

  1. ^ Strack-Zimmermann, Benjamin. "Josef Bican (Player)". national-football-teams.com. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  2. ^ "Prolific Scorers Data - Josef Bican - Additional Data".
  3. ^ "Prolific Scorers Data". RSSSF. Retrieved 7 February 2022.
  4. ^ "The Slavia Q&As » SK Slavia Praha".
  5. ^ a b c "Josef Bican". Archived from the original on 16 May 2019. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  6. ^ "080. Josef Bican". My Football Facts. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  7. ^ a b c "Prolific Scorers Data - Josef Bican - Additional Data". RSSSF.
  8. ^ Slavia Top Scorers of All Times Archived 4 July 2020 at the Wayback Machine SK Slavia Praha
  9. ^ a b "Meet Europe's most prolific scorer of all time | Inside UEFA". UEFA. 4 December 2014. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  10. ^ a b c "Josef Pepi Bican – The Lonely Man at the Top". Goalden Times. 6 June 2017. Archived from the original on 16 May 2019. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  11. ^ a b "Welcome to FIFA.com News - The master of marksmen - FIFA.com". FIFA. Archived from the original on 25 September 2020. Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  12. ^ "TOP DIVISION GOAL SCORERS OF ALL TIME : FERENC PUSKAS LEADS THE RANKING". International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS). 12 November 2017. Archived from the original on 4 July 2020. Retrieved 3 July 2020. ((cite web)): |first= missing |last= (help)
  13. ^ a b "Josef Bican : world's greatest goalscorer". Archived from the original on 25 January 2020. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  14. ^ a b Nováček, Ondřej (25 September 2008). "Legendární fotbalový kanonýr Bican by se dožil pětadevadesáti let". Česká televize (in Czech). Archived from the original on 25 June 2012. Retrieved 8 May 2012.
  15. ^ a b c Jonathan Wilson (2 February 2021). Sports Illustrated (ed.). "Filling in the Blanks on (Possibly) the Greatest Goalscorer Ever and the Murkiness of His Total". Archived from the original on 2 February 2021. Retrieved 22 June 2021.
  16. ^ "Magical feeling of a hat-trick: Pele, Bican, Pontikas, Francis, Lee Wai". 90soccer.com. Retrieved 21 June 2020.
  17. ^ "Josef BICAN". rapidarchiv.at (in German). Retrieved 22 June 2021.
  18. ^ a b "European Topscorers by Season". RSSSF. 18 February 2021. Retrieved 22 June 2021.
  19. ^ a b c d Jeřábek, Luboš; Palička, Jan (7 October 2007). "Brazilcovo šílenství: sedm gólů za zápas". idnes.cz (in Czech). Archived from the original on 22 July 2018. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
  20. ^ "Bican:goal streak of 19 games". iffhs. 21 May 2022. Retrieved 7 June 2022.
  21. ^ "World League Topscorers 1889-2005". RSSSF. 18 February 2021. Retrieved 22 February 2021.
  22. ^ a b "Josef "Pepi" Bican". english.radio.cz. 23 January 2002. Retrieved 22 June 2021.
  23. ^ The Daily Telegraph (ed.). "Josef Bican". Archived from the original on 8 January 2021. Retrieved 3 July 2021.
  24. ^ "Czech FA Claims Cristiano Ronaldo Has Not Broken Josef Bican's Goalscoring Record". 90min.com. 21 January 2021.
  25. ^ a b c d Josef Bican - International Goals Archived 20 May 2017 at the Wayback Machine. RSSSF
  26. ^ a b c Josef Bican at FAČR (in Czech)
  27. ^ a b Willoughby, Ian (23 January 2002). "Czechs in History: Josef "Pepi" Bican". Czech Radio. Archived from the original on 28 December 2007. Retrieved 8 May 2012.
  28. ^ "Eduard Benes' Cup 1937/38". RSSSF. 21 May 2022. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  29. ^ "Josef Bican". 25 September 2013. Archived from the original on 23 July 2020. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  30. ^ a b "Legendary footballer Pepi Bican inducted in Czech FA's Hall of Fame". 25 September 2013. Archived from the original on 23 July 2020. Retrieved 9 August 2020.