Petr Čech (pronounced “Petr Chekh”) is a legendary Czech professional football goalkeeper who is best known for his 11 year stint with Chelsea in the English Premier League. Čech holds numerous goalkeeping records and is considered one of the greatest goalkeepers of his generation.
What Was Petr Čech’s Early Life Like?
Petr Čech was born on May 20, 1982 in Plzeň, Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic). From an early age, Čech was interested in sports and played football, ice hockey and tennis competitively as a youth.
Čech began his youth football career playing for hometown club Viktoria Plzeň. He later joined Chmel Blšany and had a brief loan spell at FC Sparta Prague before signing with Ligue 1 club Stade Rennais at age 19.
When Did Petr Čech’s Professional Career Begin?
After just one season with Stade Rennais, Čech signed with Ligue 1 giants Rennes in 2002 at age 20. He immediately became the club’s starting goalkeeper and helped lead them to the 2003 Coupe de France final in his first season as the number one choice in net.
Čech’s shot stopping abilities, athleticism and leadership stood out while at Rennes. In 2004, English Premier League club Chelsea signed him for a reported £7 million transfer fee.
Petr Čech’s Career Peak at Chelsea
The 2004-05 season marked Petr Čech’s first year with Chelsea. It proved to be an immense success as the young Czech goalkeeper cemented himself as one of the top keepers in the Premier League.
Winning Major Honors
In his debut season with Chelsea, Petr Čech set a record for the most clean sheets kept in a single Premier League season with 21. Chelsea conceded just 15 goals all season as Čech anchored the defense en route to winning the Premier League title.
Čech continued to excel in the subsequent 2005-06 season as Chelsea retained the Premier League crown. They also added the Football League Cup that campaign with Čech keeping yet another clean sheet in the final.
The pinnacle of Petr Čech’s career came in 2011-12 when he finally lifted the prestigious UEFA Champions League trophy with Chelsea. Čech made several crucial saves in the final and even stopped three penalties in the deciding shootout against Bayern Munich to give Chelsea their first ever Champions League triumph.
Individual Awards and Recognition
Thanks to his consistently world class performances between the posts for Chelsea, Petr Čech racked up numerous individual goalkeeper of the year awards.
He was named in the UEFA Team of the Year in 2005 and 2007. Čech also earned the Golden Glove award for most clean sheets in the Premier League four times.
In addition to recognition from football authorities, Petr Čech earned an honorary Order of the British Empire in 2016 for his services to football.
Notable Chelsea Records Set
Over the course of 11 campaigns with Chelsea, Petr Čech set numerous club goalkeeping records that may never be broken. Some of his major Chelsea records include:
- Most clean sheets in Chelsea history (228)
- Most clean sheets in a single season (24)
- Longest streak without conceding a goal (10 games)
- Most saves in a Champions League match (12)
Petr Čech was instrumental in establishing Chelsea as an English football powerhouse that competed for major honors every season.
Serious Head Injury in 2006
In October of 2006 while playing for Chelsea against Reading, Petr Čech suffered a terrible head injury after colliding with an opposing player in the penalty area. He suffered a depressed skull fracture and initially there were fears it could end his career.
Čech had to undergo emergency neurosurgery due to internal bleeding and spent months in recovery relearning basic motor functions. Miraculously he returned before the end of the season, wearing his now trademark protective headgear.
While the injury impacted some aspects of Čech’s goalkeeping, he remarkably maintained world class form for nearly another decade after returning to action.
Winding Down His Career
As Petr Čech entered his 30s, emerging young Belgian keeper Thibaut Courtois took over as Chelsea’s number one option in net. After 11 amazing seasons with Chelsea that included every major honor, Čech parted ways amicably with the club in 2015.
Finishing Up in the Premier League
Petr Čech opted to remain in London and the Premier League by signing with Arsenal, one of Chelsea’s biggest rivals. He started most matches for Arsenal over the next four seasons and added an FA Cup title to his trophy cabinet before announcing his retirement after the 2018–19 season at age 37.
International Career with Czech Republic
In addition to success at the club level, Petr Čech earned over 120 caps for the Czech national team. He backstopped the Czechs at four European Championships and the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.
Čech retired from international play shortly after Euro 2012 to focus solely on club football during the final stages of his career.
Petr Čech’s Net Worth and Post-Career Endeavors
According to multiple reports, Petr Čech built up an estimated net worth of approximately $60 million USD during his playing career from salaries and endorsements.
In retirement, Čech has undertaken several business and sporting administration roles. He obtained a football club ownership license and became a member of Chelsea’s board after the purchase of the club by Todd Boehly in 2022.
Additionally, Petr Čech surprised many by pursuing a career in ice hockey goaltending after retiring from football. He signed a contract to play goalie for ice hockey team Guildford Phoenix in 2019 and made his debut at age 37.
In conclusion, Petr Čech is considered one of the greatest goalkeepers of his generation and perhaps ever in Premier League history. His incredible reflexes, shot stopping consistency and leadership helped establish Chelsea as an elite football club.
Čech overcame a potentially life-threatening skull fracture injury early in his Chelsea tenure. He managed to regain his best form through hard work to continue competing as a world class keeper for another decade.
Off the pitch, Petr Čech has enjoyed business and administrative roles connected to football. He also displayed his incredible athletic talents by taking up professional ice hockey in his late 30s.
Čech will forever be remembered and revered by Chelsea supporters for delivering many trophies as the last line of defense. With numerous records and individual honors cementing his legacy, Petr Čech deserves induction into the English football Hall of Fame upon becoming eligible.
Frequently Asked Questions About Petr Čech
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the legendary Czech goalkeeper Petr Čech:
How many trophies did Petr Čech win with Chelsea?
Petr Čech won 13 major trophies during his 11 year Chelsea career, including four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three Football League Cups, one UEFA Champions League and one UEFA Europa League.
What individual honors did Čech earn during his career?
Čech won the Golden Glove (Premier League) four times (2004–05, 2009–10, 2013–14 and 2015-16 seasons). He was also named in the UEFA Team of the Year twice (2005, 2007) and the FIFPro World XI team once (2007).
Why did Petr Čech wear headgear during games?
After suffering a depressed skull fracture early in the 2006–07 season, Čech wore protective headgear during games for the remainder of his career to prevent any further head injuries.
What important records did Čech set while at Chelsea?
Petr Čech set many Chelsea goalkeeping records including most clean sheets (228), most clean sheets in a season (24) and longest consecutive minutes without conceding a goal (1,025).
How many international caps did Čech earn for the Czech Republic national team?
Petr Čech made 124 appearances spanning 14 years for the Czech Republic national team from 2002 to 2016. He played at one World Cup (2006) and four European Championships (2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016).
Why did Čech retire from professional football in 2019?
Čech retired after the 2018-19 season at age 37 as his playing time became diminished due to the emergence of younger keepers like Kepa and later Mendy. Čech had also accomplished everything possible during his decorated club career.