View: Lukas Hradecky Iron

Janne Palomaki

Lukas Hradecky is Bayer Leverkusen's tough centre-back, writes John Palomaki.

Bayer Leverkusen won the Bundesliga championship for the first time in their history. ZumaWire / MVPHOTOS

Eurodance is not Lukas Hradecky's favorite music.

The enduring hit of the mid-90s Italian gala “Freed from Desire” was played in the Bayer Leverkusen locker room, with beer poured over Basque coach Xabi Alonso.

– There is bad music in the locker room, I have to take responsibility, captain Lukasz Hradecky swore in an interview with Viaplay.

The Nordic media company had sent its own reporter to BayArena, as it was indeed a milestone in Finnish sports history.

No Huuhkajat player has ever won a European top league championship as captain of his team before.

Hradecky did it right in his characteristic way: zero game and immediately afterwards with a bottle of beer in hand.

– My little brother will come down and we will probably go to the sauna. The car stops here. There's a small spa at the club, maybe I'll sleep there, he continued.

For Finns, futsal championships of this magnitude are a rare treat. Only Jari Litmanen's (1995) and Sami Hype's (2005) Champions League triumphs are greater than Hradecky's.

Next season, Runosmäki's glue stick can once again compete in elite European competition. Perhaps Leverkusen will get stronger, because not a single player is in a hurry to leave Xabi Alonso's training now.

The 42-year-old Basque is now the hottest coin in the football coaching market. This spring, he could turn down calls from Bayern Munich and Liverpool.

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Fans embraced Lukas Hradecky after the final whistle. AOP

Alonso wants to build his own life in steps of the right size.

Next is to lead Bayer Leverkusen in the new “Swiss” autumn of the Champions League.

And it's not whining. Leverkusen fans remember well how a team featuring Michael Ballack, Zé Roberto and a young Dimitar Berbatov made it to the Champions League final.

A Zinedine Zidane would have succeeded if he hadn't conjured a true fairy tale out of thin air.

Until Sunday, that Leverkusen team was the most successful of all time. That will no longer be the case, as the season 2023–2024 brought the now 119-year-old club the first Bundesliga championship in its history.

And there is more to come, as the team will go into the German Cup final at the end of May as heavy favourites. The opponent is Kaiserslautern, who are in the relegation battle of the second tier, so the difference in standings is huge even before kick-off.

Hradecky has a chance to celebrate three times, because Leverkusen is also involved in the deciding stages of the Europa League. The team already have one foot in the semi-finals as they hold a valuable 2-0 advantage against West Ham on Thursday.

The story continues after the video

Watch Florian Wirtz's hat-trick to make it 5-0 in the video. Bundesliga matches can be seen on VSport's channels and Viaplay's service.

– I have nothing else to say but smile and smile. It was a pretty ridiculous climax to a season like this in front of the home fans, with Hradecky beaming on viaplay.

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– We were too much. In general, only Bayer Munich has won five rounds (championship) before the final.

It's true. Bayer Leverkusen have lifted the curse hanging over the club. After the meltdown in the spring of 2002, it was long nicknamed “Neverkusen”.

Basque coach Xabi Alonso lifted Leverkusen's curse. AOP

No longer invited. “Die Werkself” is the current champion of the Bundesliga.

This vintage has many heroes. Alonso is undoubtedly one of them. Granit Xhaka has brought real leadership and attitude to the midfield this season. Jeremy Frimpong and Alex Grimaldo flew on their wings, and Patrick Schick and Florian Wirtz scored the goals.

It plays between posts. Hirateki notched his 14th shutout in the Bundesliga on Sunday and will look to surpass that mark.

The Finn already has the most clean sheets by a foreigner in the Bundesliga. He is definitely a key link in the champion team.

– I already thought that this was no longer possible. Really grateful: Hradecky praised Viaplay for what kind of team we have, what the coach has brought and what kind of new players have arrived.

– It's a combination of everything.

The party has been going on for a long time in Leverkusen. AOP

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