Wednesday 11 October 2023, 07:00

Goalkeeping Kukučkas achieve rare feat

  • Father and son goalkeepers Denis and Michal Kukučka faced each other in the Slovak Cup

  • Denis, the father, decided to end his career after the match

  • Michal Kukučka: “Football can sometimes be cruel and unfair. But there it showed its best face”

The history of football is full of family sagas, anecdotes about relationships and legendary gene pools. In Slovakia, the go-to story has been three generations of the Weiss family, each named Vladimir and each having worn the colours of the national team. The grandfather even saw both father and son participate in the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, one as a coach, the other as a player.

From now on, we will also be able to tell the story of the Kukučkas. The notoriety of father and son Kukučka may not be as great as that of the Weiss trio, but their story is no less beautiful. What father would not have dreamed of one day facing his son in an official match, and vice versa? This is what happened on September 27, 2023 to Denis and his son Michal, goalkeepers of OK Častkovce and AS Trenčín respectively, during the third round of the Slovak Cup.

“The idea that we could face each other in a match was in the back of our minds,” explains Michal Kukučka. “We had already discussed this possibility together but it had never arisen until this draw. This match was very special for both of us. It will obviously remain engraved in our memories.”

Denis Kukučka will have even more reason to remember this match being his last. After 25 years of a career spent exclusively in Slovakia, in the third division, the goalkeeper chose to hang up his gloves at the end of this match finally won 2-1 by his son's club, also current leader of Fortuna Liga, the elite championship.

Impeccable on his line, but replaced in the first half, OK captain Častkovce received a deserved ovation, and the special embrace of a unique opponent: his son Michal. “At that moment my father told me that I had to continue working hard and that he was just happy that we managed to face each other in an official match,” says Michal.

Goalkeeping Kukučkas achieve rare feat

"I couldn't imagine a more beautiful ending. It was the most beautiful moment of my career. I got chills. Tears came to my eyes. I had a hard time not crying," confided the father in the local media.

From now on, Michal will be able to count on 100 per cent support from his father from the sideline. A support that Denis has never stopped providing to his son, an U-21 international. “He and other members of my family attend almost all of my games. They encourage me a lot,” confides Michal, who paradoxically started football as an outfield player. “I owe a lot to my father who was, for a time, my coach, but above all who was my role model. He taught me the basics of my profession.

Goalkeeping Kukučkas achieve rare feat

“All this explains, I think, why our game is so similar,” continues Michal. “At the end of the match, many told me that we had exactly the same actions on the pitch." It must be the magic of genetics, or perhaps that of football.

“Football is an extraordinary game for its power to bring people together. Certainly, it can sometimes be cruel and unfair. But on September 27, it showed its best face,” adds Michal.

“I am happy that my father experienced this. It’s very symbolic because, as they say, ‘what you give to football, you will get back’. And my father made a lot of sacrifices for football. Thanks to this match, I think he got that back.”