It has been announced on Wednesday evening that former goalkeeper and current technical and performance advisor of Chelsea FC, Petr Cech is to play competitive ice hockey.
The 37-year-old will play as goalie (netminder) for Guildford Phoenix which is located close to where Cech lives. When his Chelsea Football Club schedule allows, he is ready to help them in their league games.
‘I am delighted to have the opportunity to play with the Phoenix to get the match experience,’ Cech said.
‘I hope I can help this young team to achieve their goals for the season and try to win as many games as possible when I have the chance to play.
‘After 20 years of professional football this is going to be a wonderful experience for me to play the game I loved to watch and play as a kid.’
Guildford’s head coach Milos Melicherik added: ‘We are very excited to have Petr join the Phoenix team and we are looking forward to seeing him in action this weekend. He has improved a lot since I first saw him on the ice and I am excited to see him play.’
That first game is a home one this Sunday when Swindon Wildcats 2 will be the first side Cech will be trying to keep out of his goal.
He is of course the most successful goalkeeper in Chelsea Football Club history, including holding our record for the most number of clean sheets.
Having retired from football following the Europa League final in May when he played for Arsenal against Chelsea, Cech returned to Stamford Bridge in his new technical role in June.
At the age of 13, Cech had to make the decision between pursuing a future in ice hockey or in football, because he simply did not have time to practice both. Since moving to England he has frequently watched ice hockey in Guildford, as well as keeping up to speed with everything going on in the NHL in America.
Back in 1998, the 16-year-old Cech was captivated by his nation, the Czech Republic’s dramatic triumph in that year’s Winter Olympics in Japan. He takes up the story.
‘It was in Nagano so the ice hockey quarter-finals, semi-finals and final were all in the morning, so I didn’t go to school,’ he laughs. ‘We all tried to find a way not to miss it.
‘That year was the first the NHL allowed all the best players to go and participate, so people called it the ‘Tournament of the Century’ because every nation could choose any player they wanted from every competition. This time is the same so it will be exciting.’