Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech crowns great first season at Chelsea with new record

03-02-2005

Petr Cech, the goalkeeper for the national football team, has crowned a brilliant first season at the English club Chelsea by setting a new Premiership record of minutes gone without conceding a goal; he hasn't let in a goal in an incredible 781 minutes, or almost nine full games.

Petr Cech, photo: CTKPetr Cech, photo: CTK Petr Cech's rise to the top of the world of football has been nothing short of meteoric. Born in the west Bohemian town of Pilsen, he began his career at local side Viktoria Pilsen. But it was at leading Czech club Sparta Prague that he really made a name for himself; at just 19 years of age he set the Czech league's record for minutes without conceding a goal (903), and also managed to establish himself as first choice goalkeeper ahead of the excellent Jaromir Blazek.

Cech, who is almost two metres tall, also made a big impact at the 2002 European Under 21s championships, where he saved two penalties in the final as the Czech Republic won the competition for the first time ever.

He wisely moved from Sparta Prague to the small French club Rennes, where he gained the experience of playing abroad but remained somewhat out of the spotlight. Cech was also first choice goalkeeper, something which would have been unlikely at a bigger club, given his age.

Wednesday night was another success for the young Czech. Not only did he set a new record of minutes gone without conceding a goal; he also brilliantly saved a penalty, ensuring all three points for Chelsea, who are well on their way to winning the Premiership. Cech says that he would swap any record for the first league title of his career.

Petr Cech, photo: CTKPetr Cech, photo: CTK While many pundits at least partly attribute Chelsea's success this season to Petr Cech's brilliance between the posts, the player modestly credits the team's strong defence for making his job a lot easier.

The most remarkable thing about him is his age. Goalkeeper tend to reach their peak later than other players, perhaps after the age of 30, but Cech - at just 22 - has already been voted the second best keeper in the world. He has 28 Czech international caps and - given that his career could last another 15 years - may well eventually set the country's appearances record.

It is very early to say, but some day Petr Cech could be a real legend of Czech - or even international - football.

03-02-2005