How Petr Cech became a legend in just two seasons and taught Sir Alex Ferguson a lesson
The legendary shot-stopper returns to the club where he made his name as a teenager and even wowed Sir Alex Ferguson with his talent
Cech has been a monumental figure between the sticks for both Chelsea and Arsenal – winning all their is to win in club football and picking up the most clean sheets (202) in the division’s history along the way.
On Thursday, he returns to the club where his immense talent was spotted as a teenager: Stade Rennais.
Ahead of Arsenal’s last-16 Europa League tie against the Ligue 1 outfit, talkSPORT.com has looked at Cech and his spell in France that shaped him to become one of the best glovesmen of his generation.
Cech remarkably started his career as a striker for Skoda Plzen, now Viktoria Plzen, but changed to goalkeeper when he was seven years old.
He then joined Chmel Blsany in 1999 and made his Czech First League debut when he was 17.
After impressing at Blsany, Cech signed for Sparta Prague when he was 18 and made an instant impact in the capital – breaking the record for the longest amount of time without conceding a goal (855 minutes).
However, it was at his next club, Rennes, where Cech really emerged in the spotlight.
Cech kept an astonishing 27 clean sheets in two seasons with Rennes and was instrumental in keeping his club from relegation to Ligue 2 in both seasons.
He helped Rennes to the semi-final of the French Cup – playing four out of five matches before they were knocked out – and earned his senior debut for the Czech Republic that season.
The next season Rennes reached the quarter-finals of the French Cup and Cech performed heroically in two penalty shoot-outs before they were eliminated.
Rennes vs Arsenal
Full commentary from the Europa League showdown will be live on talkSPORT2, with our coverage getting underway at 6pm.
It was only a matter of time before a huge club in Europe came calling for him.
The then assistant coach of Rennes, Michel Sorin, recalled: “He was a phenomenon. He was great, he had exceptional flexibility. He had everything and he was a hard worker.”
While the Head of Chelsea’s goalkeeping department, Christophe Lollichon, said: “In two years, he had become a legend around Rennes.
“He was a young man, very curious and who had a thirst for performance. There is not a training session where I remember seeing him go backwards on the pitch. He was thirsty for knowledge and discovery.”
Petr Cech’s career in England
Chelsea (2004 – 2015)
– Premier Leagues (2004-05, 2005-06, 2009-10, 2014-15)
– Four FA Cups (2006-07, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2011-12)
– Three League Cups (2004-05, 2006-07, 2014-15)
– One Champions League (2011-12)
– One Europa League (2012-13)
– Two Community Shields (2005-06, 2009-10)
Arsenal (2015 – 2019)
– One FA Cup (2016-17)
– Two Community Shields (2015-16, 2017-18)
So good were his performances that Sir Alex Ferguson was drawn to see him in action himself and while he didn’t sign him, it taught him a lesson
“I went to see Petr Cech when he was at Rennes,” Ferguson said, as quoted by the Mail.
“He was 19 at the time and I said to myself, ‘He’s too young’.
“But Chelsea bought him and he’s never been out of the team. So age doesn’t matter when you have the ability of a goalkeeper like Petr Cech or, we know, David de Gea has.”
Cech’s success in the game after joining Chelsea speaks for itself, but now that his 20 year career nears its conclusion it is fitting he gets to return to the club which acted as the springboard to his success.
Live Sport on talkSPORT
Thursday, March 7
17:55 Rennes vs Arsenal – talkSPORT 2
Friday, March 8
20:00 West Indies vs England T20 – talkSPORT 2
Saturday, March 9
Sheffield United vs Rotherham – 12:15pm – talkSPORT 2
Crystal Palace vs Brighton – 12:30pm – talkSPORT
Leicester City vs Fulham – 3:00pm – talkSPORT 2
Manchester City vs Watford – 5:30pm – talkSPORT
Sunday, March 10
Birmingham City vs Aston Villa – 12:00pm – talkSPORT 2
Liverpool vs Burnley – 12:00pm – talkSPORT