When you do something for so long, it can be very hard to transition into a new routine. Petr Čech had been a top player for many years, eleven of which he spent with Chelsea. He is undoubtedly the club’s greatest goalkeeper, having won a laundry list of awards and achievements with his time as a player.
But that is now the past. This summer he retired from playing and returned to Chelsea to take on the role of Technical
“It is a different life; as a player you have a responsibility for yourself. For being part of the team. You are responsible for the club’s image. But now the responsibility is to work with a big group of people, to make sure they connect. The power of the team is in the unit. If everybody works for one common goal, this is how you win.”
Change, as they say, is never easy. Multiple players go into retirement dead set on walking away from the game, able to resist the urge to return in some capacity. We have seen players transition to a role that keeps them tethered to the game whether it be punditry, scouting, or coaching.
“I used to be in the middle of it all and now I work towards the game, making sure everything works, and then the responsibility is to the manager and his staff, not me. I can only sit and support. As a player I hated the games I had to watch from the stands because I had no impact.
The match days are the hardest. For 20 years you work all week for the game. In my role you work the whole week for the game. But then I don’t have any participation in that game. It’s a very strange feeling.
This is the feeling I have to overcome. I am getting better. The more games you go to, the more you get used to the fact the match days are not about you. At the start it was a struggle. You want to be in there. But it was not for me any more.”
While his playing days on the pitch are now over, he has found himself a new role that allows him to stay connected in the game and with the club.
As Chelsea’s technical and performance adviser, he is tasked with a very unique role with the club. The title alone suggests that Čech will be involved with many facets of the club’s day-to-day. Details of the role have been widely speculated up until Čech opened up to his current responsibilities.
“I am getting my own ideas about what could work better. Generally when you work with a lot of different people at this level it is run by departments. But there are a lot. The best part for me is connecting the departments. This is my biggest target, to make sure everything is connected and works one way.
“The first team is the most important. But then we have the scouting, recruitment, the development squad, players who are on loan. All this works together. It will give the first team a much better platform and [let] the manager have an easier job and concentrate only on the pitch. This is something we have been trying to create. So far this season we have been working well.”
The club has not employed someone in a role similar to Čech’s since Michael Emenalo’s departure since late 2017. In the time since, Marina Granovskaia, Chelsea’s chief transfer negotiator, had reportedly overseen many of the responsibilities Emenalo once oversaw.
Like any large organization, the “silo effect” can hinder performance and negatively impact synergy. Čech intimates that his role is to help be the link between the multiple department and functions that comprise Chelsea.
For anyone that works in business setting, you will surely have come across situations where communication was key to success and lack of communication drove certain failures. Čech’s role, at a minimum, appears to help be the link between multiple cross-departmental functions and efforts.
Questions about Čech’s qualifications for the role will undoubtedly stick around in the short term. While he may not have had prior experience beforehand in a similar role, Čech points to his prior playing experience with which he found high levels of success.
“As a goalkeeper you see everything. The biggest part of my game was I could organise people to make my job much easier. You pay attention to why things are organised a certain way. You talk to people at the club. I was always a representative of the team talking to the board. I was always interested in how the club worked.
“You have to adapt [...] I always worked for one thing: play the best game, train the best way, be the best possible version of yourself. This is how you stay when a new manager comes. When you make sure your job is the top, you can influence others. This kind of thing I can bring with me. I can influence others and hopefully everything will come together and the first team will benefit. Hopefully the whole club will benefit.”
- Petr Cech; source: Guardian
Čech has been given an opportunity to succeed in a new role with Chelsea. This new role may be more niche and unique in nature, however it seems to be a role perfectly suited to a player pivoting his career off the field.