“He’s in the all-time Czech top three”: Petr Čech prepares to call time on singularly successful career

Petr Čech, photo: Filip Jandourek / Czech Radio

Football goalkeeper Petr Čech, who may well be the most famous Czech on the planet, will retire after a last appearance for Arsenal in the final of the Europa League on Wednesday. In a twist of fate, the game will be against Chelsea, the club with which he won virtually every prize going. To discuss his amazing career, I spoke to football journalist Karel Haering. He was first struck by Petr Čech in 2009 when he began appearing for Chmel Blšany at 17 – and offers this assessment of the qualities that took him to the top and kept him there.

Petr Čech,  photo: Filip Jandourek / Czech Radio
“I think it was his will to work hard, his will to improve, to push himself – and especially his hunger to win.

“As you know, not many players remain hungry after winning some trophies.

“But every season he wanted as many trophies as it was possible to win.”

Petr Čech has won four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, one Champions League and one Europa League. He still holds clean sheets records and he’s the most capped Czech international ever. But is it possible to speak about one single greatest achievement, or greatest game, in connection with Čech?

“I think it was the Champions League final in 2012, when they won it with Chelsea.

“What made it special for him was that they defeated Bayern Munich after a penalty shootout.

“It was really special for him because it wasn’t only for the Premier League, it was worldwide.

“All the people could see that he was the main hero in the end, so I think for him it was the biggest trophy.”

As I mentioned, he’s the most capped Czech international. He was also the national team captain. Where does he stand in the pantheon of great Czech players, alongside the likes of Masopust or Bican, or even Pavel Nedvěd?

“I think he belongs among the best three Czech players ever.

“I can’t judge Pepi Bican, because it’s really too far back in history.

“But I think he deserves to be next to Pavel Nedvěd and Josef Masopust.

Petr Čech | Photo: Filip Jandourek,  Czech Radio
“And he’s absolutely top in terms of trophies.

“It’s a kind of a cliché, but time will tell us how successful and extraordinary a player Petr Čech was.

“He’s the last one from the famous generation who played in top, top clubs.

“So I think we will wait a long time for another player who could play for such a long time at this level.”

What does the future hold for Petr Čech? There have been reports that he’s going to become sporting director at his old club Chelsea. If he takes that job, do you know what he would actually be doing?

“In general he’s a very intelligent player. You can talk with him about almost every topic.

“And I think what he really needs is a challenge, to do something that is tough, is difficult but also can really challenge him.

“This is the reason why I think being coach or manager isn’t work that would interest him now.

“I think he would prefer the role that Pavel Nedvěd has at Juventus, so close cooperation with the manager of the team, being involved in transfers and new signings.

“So I think this is a position that he really likes and is looking forward to doing.”