Bican, Austrian striker with Czech roots, finishes on goal in a match with Slavia Prague.EFE
The first time I heard of Bican was Fernando Daucik , a glorious coach in the fifties, not so much in the sixties and decadent already when I interviewed him and trained the Moscardó. I remember very much two things he told me: that he was born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire (I felt transported in the time tunnel) and that the best of all time was neither Pelé nor Di Stéfano, but a certain Bican, of whom he assured me that he had scored more than 2,000 goals.
—No one knows him here, but go to the Danube countries and ask…
Our man was born in 1913 in Vienna, into a family from Sledice, Bohemia. His father worked in a brick factory and played for Hertha in Vienna. Mobilized, he survived the Great War, but then died after losing a kidney in a match.
Jozsef Bican, Pepi to family and friends, grew up poor but with a gift for soccer. They claim that he ran the 100 meters in 10.08s and handled both feet masterfully. After starting at Hertha, he arrived at Rapid Vienna at the age of 17. Those were the great years of the Wunderteam , as the Austrian national team was called, a ballet led by Matthias Sindelar, The Mozart of Soccer , 10 years older than him and a neighbor of the neighborhood. Bican shared the last glory days of that team. He participated in the 1934 World Cup, in Italy, where Austria eliminated France (with his goal in extra time) and Hungary, but fell to Italy with a very partial arbitration. Mussolini had decided that this had to be his World Cup.
Here it passed like thunder in a Spain, 4; Austria, 5 disputed in January 1936 in the old Metropolitan. Spain's first defeat in their own field. He scored three goals. Sindelar was already declining and he was the figure of a Wunderteam in renewal. By then he had gone to Admira, still in Vienna, and would soon sign for Slavia in Prague and initiate procedures to become a Czechoslovakian national. Vienna, with the Nazi pressure that would lead to the Anschluss , became overwhelming due to its Bohemian origin.
The paperwork was delayed and it could not play the 1938 World Cup in France. He debuted shortly after, in a Sweden, 2; Czechoslovakia, 6, with three goals. In 1939, Hitler left Czechoslovakia in Bohemia-Moravia and Slovakia and became international through Bohemia-Moravia. So before Kubala (who played for Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Spain), he had already played in three different teams. After the war, Czechoslovakia was rebuilt, to whose selection he returned and coincided with a young Kubala. He declined an offer from Juve because he thought Italy would come under communist rule and was suspicious of both communists and Nazis. Then it happened the other way around: Czechoslovakia would be communist and Italy would not.
He completed his career at Slavia (which was renamed Dinamo in 49), with a hiatus in two minor teams, Viktovice Zelezarny and Skoda Hralec Kralove. With Slavia-Dinamo, up to 534 goals are attributed to him in 274 games, an average of 1.95 per game. Others give 518 in 341. Namely. It is said that in April 1944 he scored 9 goals for Pilsen and then scored 7 in each of the next 10 games. He retired in 1955, aged 42. When he was older, he claimed more than 5,000 goals in interviews.
In 2007, the International Federation of Football History and Statistics published a list of the top scorers of the 20th century, scored goals in national championships or matches between teams. It was led by Bican, with 805, followed by Romario (772), Pelé (767), Puskas (746) and Gerd Müller (735). Now, Cristiano would already be in the Top 5, with 763 (Messi has 721). According to the Rec Sport Soccer Stadistics Foundation, Bican would have, counting friendlies, 1,468 goals in 918 games, compared to 1,284 in 1,375 for Pelé. In national team matches he scored 19 in 19 games for Austria, 6 in 2 for Bohemia-Moravia (three of them to Nazi Germany) and 46 in 47 for Czechoslovakia.
died in 2001, aged 88. After retiring he trained a bit and then, disaffected to the regime that he was, had to survive for years with uncomfortable jobs, including feeding animals at the zoo. His tomb, which bears his statue, is widely visited.
Outside of Central Europe he was not known. He only played one World Cup, the one in 1934, and in the shadow of Sindelar. It did not reach the one of 1938, which would have caught him with 25 years. There was no World Cup neither in 1942 nor in 1946, when he was 29 and 33. By 1950 he had already left the national team, and Czechoslovakia did not even register.
In Central Europe he shone with the Doctor Gero cup, for national teams, and the Mitropa, for clubs, which the Danube countries plus Italy and Switzerland played until the European Cup and the European Cup absorbed them. In that region you can, as Daucik told me, ask about him and any average fan will qualify him as a prodigy.
But among us he did not exist until Cristiano's frenetic scoring pace has dusted off his name. Scores of goals aside, he was undoubtedly a giant.