36-year-old Chelsea legend Petr Cech announced today that he will retire at the end of the season.
Former Chelsea and Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has joined the tributes to the goalkeeper and insists Cech’s retirement is a big loss for football.
Mourinho and Cech arrived at Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2004 and won the Premier League title in their first season in England.
Cech went on to win three more league titles with Chelsea and 7 other trophies including the Champions League before joining Arsenal in 2015.
Mourinho told Sky Sports News: “I am honoured to have been the manager that, at such an early age, gave Petr a top Premier League No 1 shirt.
“After that day, it is all about him. All about his numbers, his performances, his clean sheets, his titles and his professionalism.
“It’s a big loss for football but history can’t be deleted. Many congratulations on such an amazing career.”
Announcing his retirement, Cech said: “Having played 15 years in the Premier League and won every single trophy possible, I feel like I have achieved everything I set out to achieve.
“I will continue to work hard at Arsenal to hopefully win one more trophy this season.
“This is my 20th season as a professional player and it has been 20 years since I signed my first professional contract, so it feels like the right time to announce that I will retire.
“I am looking forward to seeing what life holds for me off the pitch.”
Chelsea reacted to Cech’s announcement with a fitting tribute on the official Chelsea website, which read: “Cech moved to Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2004 and remained first-choice keeper between our posts for a decade, maintaining such high levels of performances that he will be remembered not just as our best-ever goalie but also as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time.
“The 6ft 5in former Czech Republic captain won four Premier League titles during his time in west London, keeping a record 21 clean sheets during the first of those in 2004/05.
“Cech, now 36, also won the FA Cup on four occasions, the League Cup three times, the Europa League once and, most memorably of all, the Champions League in 2012, when his three penalty saves played a massive part in us lifting the trophy we craved most of all.”