Saturday 23 February 2019

Cech to quit after winning 'every trophy possible'

In a statement, Cech said:
In a statement, Cech said: "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." Photo: PA

Sam Dean

Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech has announced he will retire from football at the end of the season, after "achieving everything I set out to achieve" in the game.

Cech, whose Arsenal contract expires in the summer, will be best remembered for his time at Chelsea, where he spent 11 years and won 13 trophies, including four Premier League titles and the Champions League.

Jose Mourinho, Cech's former manager at Chelsea, yesterday said that the 36-year-old's departure from football will be a "big loss" to the game, as Cech was hailed as one of the finest goalkeepers ever seen in the Premier League.

In a statement, Cech said: "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."

As well as the trophies, which include five FA Cup titles and a Europa League win, Cech holds the record for the most clean sheets in Premier League history, with 202. He kept 162 of those at Chelsea, whom he joined from Rennes in 2004.

In his first season in England, Cech kept 24 clean sheets, a record for a goalkeeper. He is the nine-time Czech footballer of the year, and has won three Best European Goalkeeper awards, in 2005, 2007 and 2008. He is also the most-capped player in the history of the Czech Republic, making 124 appearances.

Mourinho said: "I am honoured to have been the manager that, at such an early age, gave Petr a top Premier League No 1 shirt. After that day, it is all about him. All about his numbers, his performances, his clean sheets, his titles and his professionalism.

"It's a big loss for football but history can't be deleted. Many congratulations on such an amazing career."

Chelsea said that Cech will be remembered "not just as our best-ever goalie but also as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time," adding that he "won… most memorably of all, the Champions League in 2012, when his three penalty saves played a massive part is us lifting the trophy we craved most of all."

Cech has become known for wearing protective headgear since he suffered a sickening head injury in a clash with Reading's Stephen Hunt in 2006. He moved to Arsenal in 2015 after Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich gave the goalkeeper his personal blessing after so many years of service to the club.

Cech has lost his place in the Arsenal side this season following the signing of German goalkeeper Bernd Leno in the summer. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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