Petr Čech completes move to Arsenal

Petr Čech, photo: ČTK

On Monday, it was confirmed after weeks of speculation that Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Čech had indeed signed with crosstown rivals, Arsenal. Arsenal fans especially welcomed the move – confident the top goalkeeper will bring new resilience to their club.

Petr Čech,  photo: ČTK
In a parting letter to Chelsea fans, keeper Petr Čech explained he always expected to retire at Stamford Bridge but that “life sometimes turns out differently”. For the player, the turning point came last summer, when – for the first time in a decade – he was relegated to second choice by manager José Mourinho who backed Belgian Thibaut Courtois as No.1. Čech, known for absolute professionalism, played only rarely throughout the season but still shined when called up.

For the player, crucial was an apparent promise by club owner Roman Abramovich that he could leave later for the team of his choice. That kind of agreement, most unusual in the world of football, eventually paved the way for the deal with Arsenal. The move allows Čech to stay in contention for more silverware but also to remain in London. Three years ago, during his final signing with Chelsea, the keeper stressed how important that was for him and his family:

Jose Mourinho,  photo: @cfcunofficial  (Chelsea Debs) London,  CC BY-SA 2.0
“If I were to move to another country my family would have to agree with it. My wife Martina understands football and top professional sport so if the change did come we would have to adapt… But the variant of [staying in London] was the best option.”

But Čech staying in the Premier League has not left all happy. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was vocal in his opposition to the deal, making clear that if it were up to him, he would rather see Čech move abroad and certainly not join a top rival. Some Chelsea fans have also been less than charitable, saying at best Čech has thrown away his legacy. Others have stooped considerably lower.

It appears most, not least former teammates including Chelsea captain John Terry, respected the move even though they said the player would be missed. Terry in particular, made clear in an interview that he understood that a player of Čech’s caliber had no place on the bench. The keeper himself told Czech Radio, meanwhile, it is always awkward when players leave long-term clubs.

Petr Čech,  photo: ČTK
“It is a sensitive situation and it will take getting used to. On the other hand, lots of fellow players moved on. If you take Frank Lampard, it was strange seeing him in a different kit last year. But if he wasn’t playing and the club didn’t keep him… so it is understandable he went somewhere else.”

On Monday, Čech tweeted that he couldn’t wait for pre-season training to begin. He could face his former club as early as August 2, when league champions Chelsea face Arsenal in the FA Community Shield.