The Tall Wall That Was Petr Cech



That night in Munich, 2012. Chelsea had reached the Champions League final for the second time since breaking their dream in 2008, against Bayern Munich, one of the most successful teams in the competition. The 2008 final was lost in a penalty shootout, on a rainy evening after Captain John Terry's slip and the Miss Nicolas Anelka. It was one of the best squads in Chelsea's history. The best players of the team, Cech, Terry, Lampard, Essien, Drogba all had the best time of their careers, but they had not seen the most prestigious trophy of club football. They did not leave the club for the love of the team. When a group of old men overcame adversity and reached the final again, this time they decided not to give up at all.

Captain John Terry saw the red in the second leg of the semi-final with an unnecessary tackle, and then young David Luiz came forward for the final. Peter Cech became a wall for Bayern that day, with one save after another. However, the last shot was not saved, he conceded a goal in the 82nd minute. Will the boat sink again on the shore? Even lion hearted Drogba may have cried at the thought of losing again. It took a consolation from Mata to get him off the ground again. However, in the 89th minute, Drogba equalized with a header from a Mata corner, the match went into extra time. Chelsea came back to life, but not for long. Drogba, who became a hero a while ago, became a villain by giving a penalty away to the opposition again. Former Chelsea man Arjen Robben came to take the penalty. I heard that Petr Cech studied Robben's penalty for 8 hours before the game. His determination paid off as he saved the penalty. The match went into shootouts. Cech saved two more penalties in the shootout. Drogba was on for decisive penalty and he did not miss from 12 yards. Chelsea took home the Champions League trophy for the first time in their history. Chelsea's seniors' club career was full by then, for Cech it was immortality. It is still one of the best goalkeeping performances in the history of the Champions League.

Cech was born in the small family of Czechoslovakia. An interesting thing happened on Cech's birth. He was blessed with two twin siblings. There were some complications with the birth of the three. For example, Czch was born with a weak skull. Cech grew up in the same Plzen. At the age of 7 he joined the famous club Victoria Plzen. He played there for 3 years as a striker. Then in an injury he broke his leg, the doctor said not to pressurize his leg. He returned to the field after 3 months. He started playing as a goalkeeper on the advice of the coach. He made his debut against Sparta Prague.

The Sparta coach was impressed with Cech's performance in that match, so he bought him from the team in the summer of 2001. Cech hit the ground running made in the first season there. His record of 903 minutes without conceding a goal stands even today. Sparta finished the league in second place that season. Arsenal coach Wenger even wanted him for his team in the summer of 2002, but the transfer couldn't go through because Cech couldn't get a work permit. Taking advantage of the situation that year, the French League One club Rennes took him for five and a half million euros.

They could not hold on to the Cech for long as Roman Abramovich, who had just acquired Chelsea, was looking for a young goalkeeper for the team, which was targeted at the suggestion of the board. Rennes rejects Chelsea's first bid in January 2004, but when a stubborn Roman bids for 7 million, Rennes were left with no option but to sell. Cech arrived in London in the summer of 2004 as the most expensive goalkeeper in Chelsea's history with newly-appointed European winner coach Jose Mourinho. Cech should have been the second choice in the first season in the presence of an experienced goalkeeper like Carlo Cudicini in the team, but luck was on Cech's side from the very beginning. In the pre-season, Cudicini got injured in the elbow injury, Cech took advantage of that opportunity. In his first game he kept a clean sheet against the famous Man United side of Sir Alex, as Chelsea won 1-0. Cech also set two new records in the first season. This time he spent 1025 consecutive minutes in the Premier League without conceding a goal. Which was a record at that time. Chelsea won their first Premier League too in that very season [1/2]