BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
PAVOL PENKSA insists he could write a book about his fraught journey to sign for Raith Rovers after the giant goalkeeper was robbed on his way to Scotland.
The 31-year-old was at Bratislava Airport with his girlfriend on Sunday as he prepared to leave Slovakia, only for a thug to grab their bags, which contained his passport and all the documentation he required to travel.
He gave chase, however the thief jumped into a car and fled the scene – with Penksa reflecting “it was like a movie!”
That left his move to Rovers hanging by a thread and he was forced to plead with the local authorities to fast-track emergency paperwork to avoid the usual 48-hour waiting period in the country.
After managing to attain new documentation within one day, he personally paid for new flights to Scotland, via Brussels and Vienna, to ensure he arrived in Fife in time for Wednesday’s Championship fixture against St Mirren.
Penksa explained: “This journey to sign for Raith Rovers – I could write a book about it! Truly.
“One day before I was due to fly to Scotland, we had our I.Ds and documents stolen at the airport. I was with my girlfriend and they grabbed our bag. I tried to chase him, but he jumped in a car and drove away.
“In my life, I try to stay calm and act like nothing happened – I am healthy, we are healthy, so that is all that matters. But it was like something from a movie.
“I would love to write a book when I stop playing football – so maybe it can be an autobiography now.
“However, no matter what the hurdle was, or the obstacle, I was going to make it to this club.
“In Slovakia, you can pay to have new documents in two days, but I went to the Police Station and said ‘if this happened to the President, would you not give him something? You would make him wait two days?’ Obviously they said ‘but you are not the President!’
“But I pleaded with them and asked them to give me something, said that this was my life and very important to my career. In the end, we managed to turn in around in one day and I arrived in Scotland after a long journey.”
In a happy ending to a remarkable tale, Penksa – who has signed a deal until the end of the season – kept a clean sheet on his Rovers debut as they claimed a pivotal 2-0 victory over the Buddies.
It was the Fifers’ maiden win under John Hughes and, more notably, their first triumph in 18 outings.
He continued: “It was not difficult to concentrate, even after what happened to me, I always want to live in the moment.
“I felt good in the team straight away. The players all fought, and it was very nice to come into the team and get an important victory.”
Following the encounter, manager Hughes lauded Penksa’s commitment to the Rovers cause by jumping through hoops to make his switch to British football a reality, while urging the 6’4 keeper to use Stark’s Park as a shop window.
Penksa continued: “I do see this as a good way to prove myself and show what I can do. I feel great, 31 is the perfect age for a goalkeeper and I feel like I am coming into my peak. I believe I can do well and impress people.”