Lubos Kubik to become third member of Chicago's "Ring of Fire"
CHICAGO - The Chicago Fire announced today that former defender Lubos Kubik will join Peter Nowak and Frank Klopas as the third member of the club's Hall of Fame, the "Ring of Fire." As the only two members of the annual tribute, Nowak and Klopas were in charge of this year's selection process into the distinguished group. Kubik will officially join the "Ring of Fire" during a formal ceremony prior to the Fire's contest against Nowak's D.C. United squad on Saturday, Aug. 6 at Soldier Field beginning at 7:30 p.m. CT.
After enjoying success in some of Europe's top leagues and internationally for his native Czechoslovakia, Kubik brought his skills to Major League Soccer when he signed with the League on February 19, 1998. The towering sweeper was allocated to the Fire, where he would team with Polish internationals Nowak, Roman Kosecki and Jerzy Podbrozny to form the Fire's famed "Eastern Bloc." The Czech's steady presence on the ball, lethal left foot and world-class marking ability made him an instant leader on the squad and one of the League's top players - as well as a fan favorite to the Chicago faithful.
"I want all the fans of the Fire to know that the team is still in my heart and in my thoughts," said Kubik. "To be honored as a member in the 'Ring of Fire' means a lot to me and I would like to thank Peter [Nowak] and Frank [Klopas] for welcoming me into it. I am always happy to come back to Chicago and meet my fellow players and all the people who work around soccer, so I am very much looking forward to this day."
Kubik was an integral part of the Fire's "Double" winning side in 1998, as he finished the year with seven goals and eight assists while starting in all but one of the squad's 32 regular season contests. He also added a team-high two goals in the postseason en route to the Fire's lone MLS Cup championship and tallied another two goals in helping the squad capture the first of its three Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup crowns. Kubik's remarkable season ended with him receiving several accolades, including the 1998 Fire Defender of the Year and 1998 BIC MLS Tough Defender of the Year awards and a spot on the 1998 MLS Best XI Team.
Kubik would play three seasons with the Fire from 1998-2000 before being traded to the then Dallas Burn on January 4, 2001. In his 71 games (70 starts) in a Fire uniform, Kubik tallied 15 goals and registered 22 assists, numbers that rank him in 7th and 6th places respectively on the club's all-time charts. Kubik finished his four-year MLS career with 16 goals and 24 assists in 82 League matches, while also adding two goals and three assists in nine MLS Cup Playoff games with Chicago.
"We're delighted to induct one of the finest players in Chicago Fire history," said Fire President/CEO John Guppy. "Lubos was a leader on the field and in the community during the Fire's first few seasons and this tribute could not be more deserving. We look forward to hosting him and his family in Chicago and honoring him on this special day."
Before joining the ranks of MLS, Kubik spent 12 seasons playing in some of Europe's top leagues, including the German Bundesliga and Italian Serie A. Kubik began playing soccer in Czechoslovakia with Spartak Hradec Kralove before beginning his professional career with Czech First Division side Slavia Praha during the 1987-88 and 1988-89 seasons. Kubik then moved to Italy, where he spent two seasons (1989-91) with famed Serie A side Fiorentina. Following his stint in Italy, Kubik would play for two seasons with French First Division side FC Metz (1991-93) and another two with German Bundesliga power FC Nurnberg (1993-95) before going back to the Czech First Division in 1995. Kubik played one season at Petra Drnovice (1995-96), rejoined Slavia Praha for half a season (1996) and then ended his tenure in the Czech leagues with AFK Atlantic Lazne (1996-98).
Kubik was also an important piece in the national team picture for Czechoslovakia and, later, the Czech Republic, helping the country to some of its best finishes ever in international competitions during the 80's and 90's. The native of Prague scored 12 goals in 56 caps over the course of a 12-year international career that began in 1985. Kubik was a starter in the midfield in four of Czechoslovakia's five matches during the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy, when the squad made it to the quarterfinals of the tournament for the first time since 1962. Kubik also played in three contests during Czechoslovakia's run to a runner-up finish in the 1996 European Championships, its best result in the competition since a third-place finish in 1980. Kubik's international playing days came to a close on Feb. 26, 1997 against Belarus.
The "Ring of Fire" tribute was created in 2003 in an effort to honor members of the team who have made the Chicago Fire a successful organization and displayed the qualities of leadership, dedication and integrity. Former Fire captain Peter Nowak became the first member of the "Ring of Fire" in 2003, while Chicago native Frank Klopas was inducted in 2004.