Nedved chooses to stay at relegated Juventus

July 27, 2006

ROME, July 27 (Reuters) - Former European Footballer of the Year Pavel Nedved has decided to stay at Juventus even though the club has been relegated to the second division Serie B in Italy's match-fixing scandal.

'I've never doubted that I would stay at Juventus,' the midfielder was quoted as saying on the club Web site on Thursday.

'I don't lack offers, but my family and I are settled in Turin and then I owe a lot to the club and the Agnelli family (who own the club), who have always been close to me,' the Czech added.

Nedved was one of the top players rumoured to be thinking of leaving Turin after Juventus and three other clubs from Serie A were found guilty by a sports tribunal of conspiring with referees and linesmen to rig games during the 2004/05 season.

Italy's World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro, Brazilian midfielder Emerson and defenders Lilian Thuram and Gianluca Zambrotta have already departed for Spain.

On Tuesday, an appeals court upheld the tribunal's verdict and ordered Juventus to start next season in Serie B on minus 17 points - a penalty some fans fear the team will struggle to overcome.

Nedved, who has been at Juventus since the start of the 2001-02 season and was the driving force behind their run to the final of the 2003 Champions League, said his aim was to win immediate promotion.

'I want to take Juventus straight back into Serie A, because that's where it deserves to be,' he said, before criticising the appeals court's decision to uphold the original ruling.

'Our titles were deserved. We have always given everything on the pitch, we had a great team and we beat some great sides. We won honestly and I'm proud of that,' he said.