Former managers, team-mates and clubs have paid glowing tributes to Petr Cech after the Arsenal goalkeeper announced that he will retire at the end of the season.
Cech who won four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, the Champions League, the Europa League and three League Cups with Chelsea, will hang up his gloves at the end of his 20th year as a professional.
The 36-year-old’s former Blues boss Jose Mourinho told Sky Sports News: “I am honoured to have been the manager that, at such an early age, gave Petr a top Premier League number one shirt.
“After that day it is all about him. All about his numbers, his performances, his clean sheets, his titles and his professionalism. It’s a big loss for football but history can’t be deleted. Many congratulations on such an amazing career.”
Chelsea also reacted to Cech’s announcement with a fitting tribute on their website, writing: “Chelsea great Petr Cech has today announced he will be retiring at the end of the season, bringing the curtain down on an incredible career in which he won every major trophy with the Blues including most famously the Champions League in 2012.
“Cech, who has been at Arsenal for the past three-and-a-half years, moved to Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2004 and remained first-choice keeper between our posts for a decade, maintaining such high levels of performances that he will be remembered not just as our best-ever goalie but also as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time.
“The 6ft 5in former Czech Republic captain won four Premier League titles during his time in west London, keeping a record 21 clean sheets during the first of those in 2004/05.
“Cech, now 36, also won the FA Cup on four occasions, the League Cup three times, the Europa League once and, most memorably of all, the Champions League in 2012, when his three penalty saves played a massive part in us lifting the trophy we craved most of all.”
Arsenal hailed Cech as the “perfect role model” and praised his “consummate professionalism” on social media before adding a longer tribute on the club’s website.
“Petr recently informed us of his decision,” the story read. “Like all football fans, we are sad about this, but completely understand and support Petr. We know Petr will continue to make a big contribution in the future, whatever he decides to do.
“Petr has been an extraordinary player during his 15 years in the Premier League and an exemplary professional on and off the pitch. He has been a fantastic ambassador for Arsenal, Chelsea and the Czech Republic and will always hold a special place in the affections of football fans around the world.
“Petr, we wish you every future success and thank you for everything you have done for our club, on and off the pitch, and the wider game. We look forward to you helping us to an exciting finish to this season and wish you well for the future.”
Former England striker Gary Lineker was among high-profile figures in the game to pay tribute to Cech on social media, writing on Twitter: “Congratulations on a truly outstanding career to @PetrCech. A wonderful goalkeeper, professional and gentleman who has been an absolute credit to our game. Wish him all the very best in his retirement at the end of the season.”
Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster described Cech as “one of my all time favourites,” while former Arsenal striker Ian Wright wrote: “All the best Petr. Enjoy the rest of the season and all the best for your retirement. It has been a pleasure watching you play.”
Former Chelsea goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini offered a tongue-in-cheek tribute in reference to his years as Cech’s understudy at Chelsea.