Current Affairs Czech Footballer of Year Petr Cech already looking forward to summer World Cup

28-02-2006 14:26 | Ian Willoughby

The Czech Republic and Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech has just been named Czech Footballer of the Year for the first time. The award is the latest in a very impressive series of records and other achievements for Cech, who is still only 23. Like the rest of the Czech squad he is currently in Prague preparing for a friendly against Turkey on Wednesday. Before the game, and before Monday's Footballer of the Year awards, I asked Petr Cech how much - with three months till kick-off - this summer's World Cup is on his mind.

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Petr Cech, photo: CTKPetr Cech, photo: CTK "You know with this atmosphere here and with people asking us around the World Cup - and even between us we are talking about it - because this is one of the last official friendly games before the preparation and before the tournament so you've got this in your mind."

It looks like Pavel Nedved is going to go. It's not really official but he seems to be going to the World Cup. What difference do you think his presence will make to Czech chances of doing well?

"He really helped us during the play-offs against Norway and he's a quality player, so it will make a difference, I'm sure. I'm happy that he's coming."

In your group [for the World Cup] you have the USA, Ghana and Italy. People have reacted differently to that draw, some say it's not so hard, others say it's pretty difficult - what's your attitude to that group, in terms of how hard it'll be for the Czech Republic to get out of it?

"I think it's one of the hardest groups, because Ghana have made big progress in recent years, and they are one of the strongest teams in Africa. That's why they are a very difficult opponent.

"And in the USA you can see again the boom in football, we've been there with Chelsea the last two years in pre-season, and the people are really hungry for football now and the national team is playing very well. They've got a lot of experienced players in Europe, that's why they will be dangerous."

In the last few years there has been a lot of debate about club versus country, and the clubs have been getting stronger. For you what would mean more, to win the World Cup with the Czech Republic or to win the Champions League with Chelsea?

"I would say if you mean just this year, it's difficult to choose...of course the World Cup is once every four years and the Champions League can be every year, so if you ask me at this stage I would say the World Cup."

What about your shoulder, I know you've had some problems with it - are you going to wait till after the World Cup and then have some kind of operation or some kind of treatment?

"The shoulder is now quite OK, so I can train, I can play, that's the most important thing. If something has to happen then it will definitely be later, but as I say maybe nothing is needed at the moment. As I say, I can train, I can play, so that's good...news for me."

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