After lots of speculation, the goalkeeper for the Czech national soccer team, Petr Čech, found himself on the bench during Chelsea’s first game of the new season on Monday, replaced by the young Belgian keeper Thibaut Courtois. Čech was the team’s first-choice keeper from the time he joined the club in 2004 and has helped Chelsea win three League titles and one Champions League, among other trophies. I asked Karel Häring, a football specialist for Deník Sport, why he thought Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho had decided to drop Petr Čech:
“From the reactions I have read after the game I think the decision had to do with age. Petr Čech and Thibault Courtois are keepers with very similar qualities and Mourinho said after the game that he had to think about the future of the club. And as you know, Courtois is ten years younger than Petr Čech.”
So you think that at the age of 32, Petr Čech’s career has already peaked?
“I don’t think his career has already peaked because his last season very good. The fact that he missed the last four league matches may have cost Chelsea the title. So I don’t think he is already off the peak. There is for example interesting statistics from last season, according to which Čech made only two mistakes in the premiership season, and that’s not bad.”
Čech is reportedly being targeted by Paris St Germain and Real Madrid. How likely do you think such scenarios are?
“Both groups are very often mentioned in connection with Petr Čech. For me it is difficult to imagine Petr Čech going to Real Madrid because they have two very good keepers – Casillas and Navas. It is difficult to say if he leaves this summer or later. I think Petr Čech is not a person who gives up quickly. He will try to fight for his place and wait. Maybe he will leave in winter if the situation doesn’t get better. But it definitely won’t be an easy decision. Also his family has been very happy in London. And of course it is always a question of offers.”
“I think Petr Čech will definitely want to stay in Western Europe. To be honest there are only a few clubs he would be interested to play in because he still is a top level keeper. So if he can’t continue in Chelsea I think he will try to choose from clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona or maybe Paris St Germain.”
Will Chelsea’s decision somehow affect Čech’s position in the Czech national side?
“I don’t expect it. Even though the coach Pavel Vrba repeats that only
players who play regularly for their clubs have a chance to play on the
national team, with the keepers the situation is a little bit different. I
think it can be a small advantage for the national team because Petr Čech
will have an extreme motivation to prove his value.”