Petr Čech’s Fairytale Swansong
Petr Čech is one of the most celebrated professional sportsmen in the Czech Republic and has become a household name in the Central European nation along with the likes of Jaromír Jágr and Pavel Nedvěd.
Photo by Christopher Johnson
Since signing for Premier League highflyers Chelsea in 2004 for a then club record fee for a goalkeeper, the tall shot-stopper has won three League Cups, five FA Cups, four Premier League titles, one UEFA Champions League title, and one UEFA Europa League title. Thirteen of these major trophies were won during his wildly successful eleven-year spell at Chelsea, with a single FA Cup victory with current side Arsenal back in 2017.
After a long and illustrious career which has seen Čech become widely regarded by fans, players, pundits, and managers as one of the greatest goalkeepers in history, the 37-year-old veteran from Plzeň will finally hang up his boots following this year’s Europa League Final on Wednesday 29th of May.
In an extraordinary twist of fate, tonight’s match will likely see Čech get the nod from his manager to guard the gates for Arsenal against former club and massive London rivals, Chelsea, with whom he won the very same competition back in 2013. If that weren’t enough, following his final game in which he hopes to help an underperforming Arsenal side to achieve European glory along with a guaranteed seeded spot in next season’s UEFA Champions League, Čech will return to his former club Chelsea to serve as the new sporting director this summer.
Photo by John Dobson
Naturally, this has caused many a football fan to question his allegiances and contemplate whether he should start for Arsenal in the Europe League Final which kicks off in Baku, Azerbaijan from 9 pm (CET) this evening. But anyone who has followed Čech throughout his trophy-laden career knows he is a man of integrity and a model professional. He is a serial winner and his experience combined with a calm demeanour will serve Arsenal well in a tie where they have far more to lose than their opponents.
As Petr Čech prepares for the final chapter in his inspirational career, his mind will undoubtedly be filled with a mixture of emotions. While he has already cemented his place as one of Chelsea’s greatest of all time, the man with the protective headgear now has the chance to write his name in Arsenal legend. Whatever the outcome for Čech, his personal story will play a pivotal role in what promises to be one of the greatest showdowns in the competition’s history.