Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech made history on Saturday, for he set a new club record for clean sheets, keeping his 209th for the Blues as they won 2-0 away to Hull City and overtaking former England stopper Peter Bonetti in the all-time list.
Reaching this milestone was no more than Cech has deserved after almost a decade at Stamford Bridge, during which time he has helped win a great deal of silverware by showing a remarkable degree of consistency. Cech has now rubber stamped his place among the very best that the Premier League has seen between the posts.
Although he had played a key role in Czech Republic’s run to the semi-finals of Euro 2004, Cech was still a relative unknown when he took to the field for his debut, which was against Manchester United. Incidentally, it was also Jose Mourinho’s opening fixture as Chelsea boss.
Prior to that game, Mourinho had a decision to make. Carlo Cudicini had starred in goal throughout the previous campaign, and it would have been a brave choice to deprive the Italian of his first-choice status.
However, it was Cech who was given the nod, and it was almost immediately evident that he had something special. Quickly, the Premier League was in awe of his shot-stopping ability, and that continued throughout the 2004-05 season as he and his defence broke several top-flight records.
Just 15 goals conceded and 25 clean sheets kept during an entire season made everyone stand up and take notice. While the central defensive partnership of Ricardo Carvalho and John Terry must receive great credit for the achievements, Cech’s efforts gained his side a fair few of the 95 Premier League points they amassed, a total which remains an all-time high.
The 2005 triumph was the first of the three league titles won at Chelsea to date. Four FA Cup winner’s medals and two League Cups are also among his sizeable haul of trophies. He had to wait until 2012 to claim European football’s biggest prize, after a series of near misses in previous years. His performance in the Champions final against Bayern Munich was suitably heroic.
Now Mourinho has returned and that looks to have helped Cech’s chances of breaking the Premier League clean sheet record. The 31-year-old has already established himself in the Chelsea record books, and there is no reason why he can continue to star for the club in the years to come, even with Thibaut Courtois seemingly breathing down his neck.
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