Petr Cech: The grace under the head-guard
The most underrated player in a team sheet. The last option for a school boy player and yet the most necessary one. This one is indeed the goalkeeper.
Not many manage to master it and few are considered the greats of the game. Petr Cech definitely makes it to the elite list of World Class goalkeepers. At age 28 and being 6ft 5in tall, this lanky footballer has been a constant soul to the legendary Chelsea side. The Czech keeper arrived at West London in 2004 for £7 million, more than all the past goalkeepers in Chelsea history. A prodigious talent at Sparta Prague, he broke the national record for the longest spell without conceding a goal at the tender age of 19. He then moved to Rennes in France after which he joined Chelsea on a five year contract.
His personal accolades are aplenty and for Chelsea too is highly decorated. But all these are mere statistics. His goalkeeping stints can be classified into two; 1. The pre injury era and 2. The post injury era.
The Pre injury era
This child prodigy, was destined for greatness since early days. He started to kick a football at age 7 in his native town at a local club. He grew attention with time not just because of his height but, more so his talent. He built his early career in Sparta Prague and later in Rennes. His highlight though is still in his present and on going one, Chelsea.
He flourished under the former coach Jose Mourinho and soon became the Chelsea number 1. He enjoyed great success with the Blues in his first few seasons and along with John Terry helped turn Chelsea into a commendable defensive unit. Records and accolades followed soon and he became recognized as one of the world’s best soon. What marks a true and great goalkeeper is not just by the number of saves he makes, but my the number of right decisions he makes and the number small errors he avoids. Cech was in a side where he had to make few saves, but when ever called upon, he stood firm. His high concentration levels and brilliant shot stopping abilities made him an instant Stamford Bridge favorite. All his commendable feats are predominant in this era. Having peaked here, he began to be mentioned in the same breath as some of the greatest goal keepers. What lay beyond was quite shocking. Good or bad, no one knows, but surely a big change was to come.
The Post injury era
October 14, 2006. Just another day in the office for the Blues and himself, or so thought Cech. It wasn’t to be. In just a minute of the game’s play, Cech had a nasty collision with the Reading forward Stephen Hunt inside his own penalty box. The impact was so hard, that a source claimed the magnitude to be in parallel to that of a car crash. He soon became unconscious and was rushed to the hospital. It was a life threatening injury he had sustained and escaped.
Cech has mixed memories about this incident and claims it to be his greatest save of his life. The save that nearly cost his life. What is astonishing though is remarkable fight back from death’s clutches. The shot stopper’s recovery was indeed a special journey in his life. With Chelsea’s medical staff monitoring him like a hawk and his rehabilitation work outs prompt, Cech managed his recovery way ahead of his scheduled time. His comeback match against Liverpool was much anticipated and quite an event. The scoreline indicated a Chelsea loss, much experts and viewers felt that Cech wasn’t at fault for the goals. In fact he gained immense credit for his feat and applauds for his comeback. Cech the hero was back and showed that none of his skills had diminished. Big Pete as know by his team mates, was truly back and better.
At 6ft 5in, Big Pete is widely know for his great concentration and shot stopping abilities. Though individual errors were highlighted post injury, Cech wasn’t cowed down by them. He came back stronger and different. The special rugby type head-guard he faces has become an iconic symbol for him and many. The grace under that is only too evident and his masterclass displays only prominent. Playing for a side where he has few saves to make every match, Cech delivers more often than not when called upon. His rise to the peak has been an intriguing journey for him and more so for his fans. His credentials can never be doubted and and whats fearful is that he still age in his side to improve and get things straight!