Our greatest goalkeeper will hang up his gloves at the end of the season

Photo Source: Evening Standard

“This is my 20th season as a professional player and it has been 20 years since I signed my first professional contract, so it feels like the right time to announce that I will retire at the end of this season. Having played 15 years in the Premier League and won every single trophy possible, I feel like I have achieved everything I set out to achieve. I will continue to work hard at Arsenal to hopefully win one more trophy this season, then I am looking forward to seeing what life holds for me off the pitch.” – Petr Cech

The word legend gets thrown around too much in this day and age but what Petr Cech did for Chelsea Football Club will forever be legendary.

494 appearances (Sixth on the Blues’ all-time appearance list)
228 clean sheets (Club record – including most clean sheets in a season)
UEFA Champions League – 2011/12
Premier League – 2004/05, 2005/06 2009/10, 2014/15
UEFA Europa League – 2012/13
FA Cup – 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012
League Cup – 2004/05, 2006/07, 2014/15
FA Community Shield – 2005, 2009
Chelsea Player of the Year – 2011

He won it all and then some.

As a goalkeeper, he gave his absolute all to the club. A bargain £7m (an absolute steal in today’s inflated market) signing from Rennes in 2004 and for the next 11 years before leaving for Arsenal in 2015, Cech became the cornerstone of our team as an immovable object during Chelsea most successful period in its history.

The Czech Republic international was an old-school goalkeeper in that he never had any sense of flamboyance about him but was the absolute best at what you expected from your last line of defence – commanding in the air, great agility to pull off stunning saves, combined with his calm authority and ability to read the danger and organise those in front of him which marked him out… Cech is arguably the prototype of what you want from a goalkeeper.

Photo Source: Telegraph

– The save against Robbie Keane in his debut season versus Tottenham.
– Saving Paul Dickov’s penalty against Blackburn to continue his (at the time) record number of minutes without conceding a goal.
– The incredible one-handed save on the line from Andy Carroll’s header on the 2012 FA Cup Final.
– The sublime stoppage against Javier Hernandez in the 2013 FA Cup Quarter-Final against Manchester United.

We will never forget these incredible moments. When to lengths we never thought was possible to save not just points, but to actually help us win trophies in the process.

And then there was Munich.

The 2012 Champions League Final against Bayern Munich was not only the greatest night in Chelsea’s history but also the pinnacle of Cech’s magnificent career. Didier Drogba will always be remembered for scoring the winning penalty in the shootout in the Allianz Arena – Bayern’s home ground by the way – but if it wasn’t for Cech’s 3 penalty saves from Arjen Robben, Ivica Olić and Bastian Schweinsteiger in extra time and shootout combined, Chelsea would have suffered heartbreak for the second time in the biggest match in European football.

As much as 19th May 2012 is a night that Petr will never forget for all the right reasons, 14th October 2006 will also be a night that Cech will never forget, for a completely different reason.

Photo Source: BBC

Munich was the perfect example of Cech giving his absolute all to this club as a goalkeeper. The night at the Madejski Stadium, however, was the moment when Petr Cech gave his absolute all as a human being. Nearly too much even. I won’t go into much detail about what happened at the moment itself but to go through that potential life-threatening injury and be back in goal – with his now trademark headwear – just 2 months later, shows what incredible strength and courage he had both from a mental and physical point of view.

And doing so, he proved all the doubters wrong in thinking he would never be the same again between the two posts as he continued to rack up medal upon medal whilst showing nothing short of goalkeeping excellence.

As they say, all good things must come to an end and for Cech, he sure is going out at the top. Former managers, teammates and other legendary goalkeepers – from Jose Mourinho to Carlo Cudicini to Chelsea themselves – have already paid heartwarming tributes to one of the greatest to ever put on a pair of gloves. And Cech deserves every single compliment being paid to him as he is simply one of a kind. He was the ultimate professional, dedicated to his craft and always searching for ways to improve and become even better than he already was.

Photo Source: Daily Mirror

Along with Drogba, John Terry and Frank Lampard, he was one of the four main pillars of the ‘Old Guard’, a spine that lasted for over 8 years and was the focal point of Chelsea’s dominance and incredible success during that period. The greatest backbone this club has ever had and will most probably ever had.

With Cech’s retirement, this only now leaves Ashley Cole (Robben is also retiring this season) from our ‘golden generation’ as the last man still actively playing.

His heroics in Munich will never be forgotten and his incredible comeback against his potential end of life shows what a truly remarkable human being Petr truly is. Petr Cech is without a shadow of a doubt the greatest goalkeeper to ever play for Chelsea Football Club and one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time.

Thank you ‘Big Pete’. You will forever be a legend of our club.

Written by Terry Sazio.