Czech football legend Petr Čech debuts in net with ice hockey club Belfast Giants

Petr Čech

Petr Čech, the 41 year old former goalkeeper for Chelsea and Arsenal, had his debut Sunday night with the ice hockey club the Belfast Giants. Čech had more than 600 appearances in Premier League football before changing sports to ice hockey and playing goalie for the fourth tier club the Guildford Phoenix’s in 2019. František Kuna, sports reporter at Radiožurnál told me more.

František Kuna | Photo: Czech Radio

“He was in the net five or six years ago in Brno, there was an exhibition game for the final game of Martin Havlát’s career, and Petr Čech was somewhere in Great Britain in the morning for football, and then came to Brno in the evening for the hockey game. I saw him for the first time in hockey equipment, without his classic football helmet. I was really surprised when he stood up in the net and looked like a man who has been doing the sport for many years. Maybe not as good as the guys who have been doing it for longer at the professional level, but I really didn’t expect that he could do it at the professional level in Great Britain.”

It’s always interesting when athletes make a transition from one professional sport to another, like Michael Jordan who went from basketball to baseball. Maybe it’s an attribute of the quality of athlete Petr Čech is, what do you think about that?

Petr Čech | Photo: Filip Jandourek,

“In the Czech Republic, there are some athletes like Kateřina Neumannová who is a skier in the winter but also went to the summer Olympics for cycling. The same with the speed skater Martina Sáblíková who tried to get to the Rio Olympics. But when you are running and skiing, it should be a bit more similar than playing football and ice hockey. The two sports are far from each other, and I’m not sure how it is for goalies, but I think it is completely different as well.”

Well yes, because you have to be a really strong skater in ice hockey to play goalie.

Petr Čech | Photo: Czech Television

“That’s exactly the big topic. A few days ago I spoke with a friend who’s a sports teacher here in Prague, and he was telling me about a kid who wanted to play ice hockey but starting in the net, and he told him ‘no, you have to be a skater first, and then become a goalie’, so it must be tough for Petr Čech. For me it’s interesting because he had to be in the goal during his football career, and I don’t think it was possible for him to train as an ice hockey goalie at the same time. I don’t know if he had a deal with Chelsea or his other teams he played for, that he could do other sports outside of football, because it can be dangerous. Sportsman often have a contract with their teams that they cannot participate in dangerous sports, and ice hockey is a dangerous sport.”

He’s really just a beloved Czech athlete, do you think he is going to have support no matter what he is doing?

“I think so, when he will play basketball or go for a swim – I think it’s what you said, if Petr Čech is doing anything, the people will cheer for him, even if he’s just walking through Prague.”