In the Summer of 2004, Petr Cech was voted into the Euro 2004 all-star team as he helped the Czech national team reach the tournament's semi-finals. His performances in the competition caught the eyes of Chelsea, and he was quickly snapped up for £7 million.
The Czech Republic's second most capped player’s personal accolades in football are practically unmatched. In his debut season in the Premier League he went an incredible 1,025 minutes without conceding a goal.
His performances earned him the Golden Glove award for keeping the most clean sheets out of any of the league's goalkeepers. However, he did not stop there; as he went on to win the award two more times in 2010 and 2014.
Cech the player
Cech’s individual honours reach far further than just impressive individual seasons though. His continued success throughout the course of his career can be seen clearly in his other achievements.
He holds Chelsea's all-time record for keeping the most clean sheets, at a staggering 220 in all competitions. What is perhaps an even more remarkable achievement is earning the moniker of Czech Footballer of the Year seven times, six of which consecutively, despite not playing outfield.
Because of this, when your mantelpiece is as crowded as Cech's, it must come as a shock to find out that you have been made redundant by the new kid on the block, in this instance Thibaut Courtois. It is even more of a surprise that a 'keeper of his calibre has been usurped at the tender age of 32 - an age that many would assume to be a goalkeepers prime.
It seems that Jose Mourinho has an almost cyclical approach to goalkeepers at Chelsea. Just as a fresh faced, 22-year-old, Petr Cech replaced the highly regarded Carlo Cudicini, in 2004, 10 years down the line history has repeated itself. Mourinho has found a new 22-year-old goalkeeper to replace the iconic, ageing, scrum cap-wearing individual – who still has many years left in the tank.
Time to leave
As a consequence of this it seems unfathomable that the influential Czech native would be happy playing second fiddle to Courtois. Therefore, after a decade of dominance between the sticks at Stamford Bridge, it is time for him to move on.
In light of this, I want to consider a few teams which I believe he could potentially move to. Two clubs immediately spring to mind – Arsenal and Liverpool. Both of these sides would appear obvious choices, if the 32-year-old wishes to remain in England.
Simon Mignolet’s poor start to the season has left question marks over whether he is the right man to act as stopper in Brendan Rodger’s ‘5 year plan’. Similarly, Wojciech Szczesny’s cavalier attitude to goalkeeping has resulted in calls for a calmer, more experienced figure to be Arsenal’s final port of call at the back.
Crucially, both sides could offer the 32-year-old Champions League football - a major factor in any move away from Stamford Bridge.
However, Mourinho’s disdain for entering into negotiations with his domestic rivals means that it is highly unlikely that Cech will be staying in England. Thus it is necessary to look outside of the Premier League and further across the continent to predict what will happen next.
An alternative for Cech would be to follow ex-Chelsea-teammate, Ashley Cole, to Roma. The thought of seeing out his career in the Italian capital must be an attractive one and, given that Morgan De Sanctis is now 37 years of age, the Giallorossi must be lining up a replacement keeper – who better than Cech?
In spite of that, I do not think that Cech will choose any of the options above. My prediction for the club that his future lies at is A.S. Monaco. Monaco represents a club that can offer Champions League football but, more importantly, a hugely lucrative contract.
For a man that has achieved it all in football - winning Premier Leagues, F.A. Cups, the Champions League and playing at the most famous stadiums that football has to offer – he may as well ‘cash out’, as it were.
Due to this, I believe that he will use his remaining time in football to bolster his bank account, living in the luxury of the Monaco lifestyle, as he has nothing left to win – or to prove.