Czech Football News: An Ode to Petr Čech
By Sam Wilson
On the 15th of January, Czech goalkeeper Petr Čech announced that this would be his final season of playing football; with his career coming to a close at the end of the 2018/19 season. Čech, currently playing for Arsenal in the Premier League, has had an illustrious career, spanning five professional club stints and 124 appearances for the Czech Republic national team.
Petr Čech’s career started off as a child; when he played for Viktoria Plzen (known as Skoda Plzen when he first joined the club at the age of seven). Čech, in his early days, played as a striker and it was not until later that he moved into the goalkeeper position. Čech spent 10 years with hometown club Plzen before moving to FK Chmel Blšany at the age of 17. It was with Blšany that Čech made his debut in the Czech First League, playing just three times in all competitions in his debut season before playing 25 times in the league in his second season. It was with this season that Čech earned himself a move to fellow First League side Sparta Prague, signing a deal with the Czech giants in January yet remaining with Blšany until the summer.
Petr Čech would then spend just a season with Sparta Prague before attracting the interest of some big clubs from throughout Europe. Arsenal, who Čech would later play for, showed a determination to sign the keeper but the move fell through when a work permit was rejected. Instead, Čech moved to French club Stade Rennais for a reported figure of €5.5 million. Čech would go on to spend both the 2002/03 season and 2003/04 season with Rennes before, in January 2004, Chelsea first showed themselves as suitors for the keeper. After having an initial bid rejected, Chelsea eventually had a bid accepted for Čech of around £7 million; the keeper moving to England in the summer of that year and becoming Chelsea’s most expensive goalkeeper signing at that point in time.
Petr Čech spent a successful eleven seasons with Chelsea; where he rose to prominence as one of the best goalkeepers in the world. During his stint with the Blues, Čech won five Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three league cups, one Europa League and the much-coveted Champions League trophy once, in 2012. Whilst at Chelsea, Čech would also be named Czech Footballer of the Year eight times, as well as winning the Premier League Golden Glove on three occasions. After 494 matches for Chelsea in all competitions, Cech moved across London to rivals Arsenal, after being phased out of Chelsea’s team by a promising young Thibaut Courtois.
Čech signed for Arsenal for a believed figure of around €10 million; swapping blue for red and leaving behind the club that made him an icon in favour of a fresh start. In his debut season for the Gunners, Čech kept 16 clean sheets, winning the Golden Glove for the final time in his career. Since joining the North London outfit, Čech has played 130 times in all competitions but now, in his final season with the club, faces stern competition from a newly arrived Bernd Leno for first team minutes. Čech will retire at the end of this season, bringing to an end the career of one of the greatest Czech players of all time, as well as one of the best goalkeepers in football history.
The Prague Raptors would love to congratulate Petr Čech on his career and invite him to come along to watch a training session next time he’s in Prague!
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