“I grew up in the mountains,” the spirited Slovak, a native of Vrútek, tells me. He is wearing sunglasses, gesturing emotionally, and behind him the turquoise surface of the Mediterranean Sea glistens. “I come from the mountains, but when I came here to France, the manager took me to the sea first. I immediately told him that I would stay here. The sea, that was my dream.’
As Adolf Scherer said, he did. He settled near the Côte d’Azur and eventually spent half a century of his life in southern France. In his house in the town of St. I first visited Gilles, the best Czechoslovak scorer of the 1962 World Championship, when the fiftieth anniversary of one of the biggest achievements of domestic sports was approaching. He was 74 years old in the spring of 2012. He still rode his bike around the city, trained the local soccer youth three times a week – but most of all he wanted to show me his beloved coast.
We had about half an hour’s drive to the beach near the town of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in the protected wetland area of the Camargue with wild horses, flamingos, bullrings and rice fields. “We go here about twice a week. But not sunbathing. Swim!” emphasized Scherer. He was a keen swimmer and his second wife Nadia was quite worried about him. Even at his age, he routinely ventured hundreds of meters, even a kilometer from the shore. “When I played for Nîmes, I went to the beach here as part of individual training and to run. And swim too. Swimming is my life,” he smiled.
Scherer’s feet crunch into the sand on the empty spring beach, the wind blowing his gray hair here and there. “I immediately accepted the offer from Nîmes precisely because of the sea,” he says. Only then did he start to wonder how his new team was doing in the first French league. “I knew a little German, so I ask the president of the club how we are doing. He hands me the newspaper, I scan the table line by line with my eyes and still nothing. All the way down – the last one. So I say to myself: ‘God! Where did it come from?'”