Petr Cech, one of the greatest goalkeepers to ever play the game, and the greatest goalkeeper to ever play for Chelsea, has today announced that he will retire and hang up his gloves for good at the end of the current season, his 20th as a professional footballer.
“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.”
At Chelsea, Cech won the Premier League four times, the Champions League once, the Europa League once, the FA Cup four times, the League Cup three times, and the Community Shield twice. He was also named as Chelsea’s Player of the Year in 2011 and holds the club’s all-time records for most clean sheets overall and the most clean sheets in a season. He is sixth on the Blues’ all-time appearance list with 494 — only Chopper Harris, Peter Bonetti, John Terry, Frank Lampard, and John Hollins have more.
The legendary goalkeeper also holds the Premier League record for fastest to 100 clean sheets (in only 180 appearances), as well the record for the most clean sheets in league history. He is also the only goalkeeper in history to have won the Premier League Golden Glove with two different clubs.
All good things must come to an end and unfortunately, and so must this. Several footballing personalities have already paid their tribute to the amazing goalkeeper, including manager Jose Mourinho, currently working on his punditry career, as well as former teammates and card-carrying members of the goalkeeping fraternity.
PC1 @PetrCech you could have waited few more years to retire ,to allow me the chance to play few more games with the Chelsea legends!!I’m looking forward to fight for the #1 jersey...again Congratulations for an immense career and good luck for what comes next. #202cs #1 pic.twitter.com/yJxEjkVeW3— Carlo Cudicini (@Capitancarloc) January 15, 2019
"I am honoured to have been the manager that, at such an early age, gave Petr a top Premier League number one shirt."— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) January 15, 2019
Jose Mourinho pays tribute to Petr Cech after the goalkeeper announced his retirement earlier today.
More: https://t.co/50U1PjRfvs pic.twitter.com/RHnkFX4l5O
Thank you, @PetrCech, for your help during my first year in Chelsea. Congratulations on your amazing career! You were an exceptional colleague, friend and example for me personally and for all us, goalkeepers. Good luck in the future! pic.twitter.com/oqVPdCHAgM— Thibaut Courtois (@thibautcourtois) January 15, 2019
And so, another member of the Chelsea Old Guard retires. Cech makes four, after Lampard, Terry, and Drogba, leaving the currently out-of-contract Ashley Cole as the last person standing.
Whatever comes next, we wish Cech all the best in his future endeavors and hope that he returns to the club in some capacity sooner rather than later — back in 2014, he had already talked about long-term managerial ambitions, for example.
“If I go into coaching, my ambition is not to start at a small team and end at a small team. Obviously, I want to do the best, as I have done in my playing career. My target will be to be in charge of a good team and to play against the biggest teams, so why not Chelsea?
“To start your managerial career at Chelsea is not a good idea. To start at a big club is a really big ask. A lot of people think if someone has been at a big club, there is a good reason to go there. But being a manager is a completely different story. I would say it’s always nice to build a career, to start somewhere where you can learn and then, one day, maybe I could be at Chelsea.”
-Petr Cech; April 2014
For this is home and he is and will always be a Chelsea legend.