Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech believes the skullcap that he's adopted for matches prevented himself and team-mate Kurt Zouma from suffering serious head injuries against Derby County.
The Blues defender was stretchered off after lengthy treatment in Tuesday's 3-1 Capital One Cup victory at the iPro Stadium, but thankfully suffered nothing more than a small cut and dizziness after the final whistle.
Cech has worn a protective helmet ever since that horrible collision with former Reading midfielder Stephen Hunt at the Madejski Stadium on 14 October 2006, that forced him to have metal plates attached to his skull after suffering a depressed fracture that nearly cost him his life.
The veteran custodian was sidelined for three months in line with medical advice and eventually made his Premier League comeback against Liverpool on 20 January 2007, but the whole incident highlighted the need for greater protection for goalkeepers.
Cech took it upon himself to start wearing a head guard to keep safe from a similar scenario developing again, and the 32-year-old is adamant it's that eye-catching padded garment that ultimately saved Zouma.
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"I think we clashed with heads," he was quoted by the Daily Telegraph the day after the quarter-final win. "I had a huge hit on my right side and, obviously, when I got the ball away I was looking where the ball goes and it was a punch so I was happy with that. But then I saw him lying on the floor.
"I was a bit concerned because we collided with a heavy clash. I think it was lucky he hit my helmet because the impact would have been much bigger. I think the helmet saved him, me as well. Because he hit most of the helmet and took away a little bit of the impact."
Cech was enjoying a rare run-out against the Championship opponents after losing his place in the Chelsea team to Thibaut Courtois, but the club legend isn't going to let this week's incident tarnish a successful night's work after Zouma was given the all-clear.
"He's fine, the medical staff did really well to assess the situation," added the 6ft 5in gloveman. "In this kind of clash you never know. He did not look so good to continue. Obviously, it was the right choice. Now he is all clear, hopefully. He is sitting there happy we won the game."
Chelsea's progression to the next round sees them face Premier League rivals Liverpool in the two-legged semi-finals, with the winner set to be awarded another opportunity of claiming a trophy at Wembley against the victor of Sheffield United and Tottenham next year.
Jose Mourinho reflected positively on another dominant performance from his Blues side that have lost just one game so far this season, and continue to fight for silverware on all four fronts in 2015.
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