Over the weekend, Petr Cech quietly eased himself into the record books having made his 138th league clean sheet against West Brom. That puts him at the top for clean sheets amassed at one club, a fantastic achievement and a representation of what a great servant he has been to Chelsea Football Club ever since his arrival. He, arguably has been the best signing the club has made during the Abramovich Era.
Cech arrived to Chelsea from Rennes in the summer of 2004 for a fee of £7million which at the time was a club record for a keeper. Although he joined the side with Mourinho in charge, it was in fact Claudio Ranieri who decided that Petr Cech would join Chelsea and it is an act that I have thanked him for multiple times over the years. It wasn’t love at first sight mind you, at least not for me. I thought it was the wrong decision to start Cech ahead of Cudicini who in the few seasons previously had been Chelsea’s most consistent player, yet I was proven completely wrong. Cech, was imperious in goal, a characteristic that ran through the whole Mourinho side.
The 2004-2005 season saw league records tumble as Cech managed to keep 25 clean sheets and the team conceded a mere 15 goals, both still records that stand today. Cech also managed to set the record for longest time without conceding a goal (1,025 minutes!) which has since been surpassed by Edwin Van Der Sar. The team went on to win their first league title in 50years and Petr Cech was instrumental in making sure it was as emphatic as it was.
Widely considered to have been the best goalkeeper in the world at the time, he was dealt a cruel blow to establishing himself as possibly the greatest keeper of all time. In a match against Reading in October 2006, Cech suffered a fractured skull. Sidelined for three months and forced to wear a headgear for the rest of his playing career, a sight that now would seem strange if he didn’t have it on anymore. From his return, Cech’s form suffered as he tried to regain his confidence and commanding authority once again, it seemed that he may not reach the heights that he had previously soared to.
Whilst it can be argued that he never managed to regain his old form, Petr Cech went on to set the record for shortest time taken to reach 100 clean sheets in the Premier League in only 180 games. There is also no doubt, that he, along with Didier Drogba were the iconic figures in that memorable night in Munich. Cech saved 3 out of 6 penalties he faced and correctly guessed the direction of every single one and was one of the most deserving players to receive a Champions League medal to his collection.
Cech has since moved his tally to 138 and doesn’t look like slowing down anytime in the near future. This season, whilst the stats he may have conceded more than what Chelsea are usually accustomed to, it has in no way been a fault of Petr Cech. At the age of 30, he still has plenty of years left in him but one would have to assume that he won’t spend all of them with Chelsea as young Thibaut Courtois raises eyebrows with eye-catching performances for Atletico Madrid and will likely one day in the near future take the mantle from Cech but they will be some pretty large gloves to fill. Cech has over the years demonstrated that he is a leader at the club on and off the pitch, he remains one of the longest serving players at the Club and in his 8 seasons has managed an astounding 405 appearances. Not bad for £7million.
Just to wax lyrical on Cech a little longer his achievements with the club have seen him win 3x Premier League titles, 4x FA Cups, 2x League Cups, Champions League and he’s won the Golden Gloves twice in the Premier League. That isn’t all of it yet, Cech in his time with Chelsea has been awarded the Czech player of the year an incredible six times and in 2011 was voted Chelsea player of the year. It’s been a tremendous privilege to have had one of the very best keepers in the world stay at the club for so long and there is a sense of security when he’s on the pitch between the goalposts.
“I believe Petr Cech is one of the most important players for this team, one of the best goalkeepers in the world” – Carlo Ancelotti