Petr Cech, the 38-year-old ex-goalkeeper who is currently Chelsea FC’s technical and performance adviser, has sensationally been added to the club’s 25-man post strong transfer window squad, as emergency cover. Cech last played for the Blues back in May 2015 when Chelsea beat Sunderland by three goals to one.
Before retiring as a professional goalkeeper last year, Cech was transferred to Arsenal and spent four years on their books. But, it’s not just the fact that he has been dragging out of retirement, it’s also that he could be putting his life on the line for the Blues once again as he did back in 2006 when Chelsea played Reading.
Just 15 seconds into the match, the Reading midfielder, Stephen Hunt collided with the Chelsea goalkeeper. Hunt was chasing a long ball that had been looped over the Chelsea defence. Little did anyone realise at the time, Cech was to be seconds from death.
The collision between Hunt and Cech resulted in the Reading player’s boot crashing into the side of the Chelsea goalkeeper’s head.
From that point on, Cech’s professional career would never be quite the same. The incident resulted in a serious skull fracture that required the insertion of metal plates into the goalkeeper’s head. The operation took place at the John Radcliffe Hospital neurological unit in Oxford which is just 30 miles away from the Madejski Stadium.
Since that day, Cech took to wearing a distinctive protective head guard whenever he played. It became his trademark.
At the time of the incident, Hunt was unaware of the severity of the injury to the Chelsea goalkeeper. The match was Hunt’s first-ever Premier League start, and he was pumped up for the occasion. He admitted afterwards being perhaps overzealous going into the challenge, but in his own words, he remarked that it was his “breakthrough game” and his adrenaline was running high.
Chelsea’s manager at that time was a certain Jose Mourinho. Immediately after the incident, he caused controversy by accusing the ambulance staff who were on duty at the ground that day of putting his goalkeeper’s lives in danger by being too slow to respond to the incident.
Mourinho, who is rated the sixth-best EPL manager of all time, and who is currently the manager of Tottenham Hotspur, was sacked by the club at the start of the next season. Beforehand Chelsea, who were without Petr Cech for three months following the injury, had watched their championship challenge fade away.
In response to comments since the surprise announcement of Cech’s inclusion in the 25 man squad made a few days ago, Chelsea manager, Frank Lampard, commented that the decision was not made based on a romantic notion. He said that Cech, who has recently been assisting with coaching Chelsea’s goalkeepers, enjoys training and is up to the task.
He went on to say that he does not expect hm to play, but also remarked that nobody expected what has taken place over the last six or seven months either, which in part explains why the decision was made.
Petr Cech is one of four goalkeepers that Chelsea can call on. Their first choice is ordinarily the Spaniard, Keps Arrizabalaga, who is the world’s most expensive goalkeeper, but who has shown indifferent form since the start of the new season.
But despite the nostalgia of seeing Petr Cech between the sticks again as Chelsea goalkeeper, most soccer fans would prefer not to be reminded of that horrific injury sustained 14 years ago.