The latest edition of Chelsea magazine, available in print and digital format, features Petr Cech reflecting on surpassing Peter Bonetti to break the record for the number of clean sheets kept as a Blues’ goalkeeper.
While last month’s 2-0 win away at Hull City saw the Blues secure an important three points, the game, in years to come, will be remembered as the day in which Cech made history.
The ‘keeper, a regular since signing for the club in 2004, drew level with Bonetti’s 208 clean sheets on New Year’s Day courtesy of our 3-0 victory at Southampton, but with Mark Schwarzer given an opportunity to play in the following match, at Derby County in the FA Cup, Cech’s first opportunity to break the record came on Humberside and it was one he grabbed, quite literally, with both hands.
‘The main satisfaction was from winning the game,’ the 31-year-old tells the March edition of the magazine. ‘I didn’t go to Hull thinking about the record. I wanted to play the best I could, and for the team to win.
‘Then somebody asked me about it after the game and I told them I would rather have won the game 4-3 than it be 0-0 and keep that clean sheet.’
Cech is widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers to grace the Premier League, high praise indeed considering the likes of Peter Schmeichel, David Seaman and Edwin van der Saar have all enjoyed sustained periods of success in the English top flight.
A player renowned for his dedication, professionalism and attention to detail, he explains what makes a good goalkeeper.
‘Your technique and your physique – speed, reactions, coordination – are your tools, but you need to know how and when to use each tool to make the save or the right decision,’ he says.
‘Technique will not make the right decision for you. It can help you to make betters saves, to be more efficient or quicker, but your decision-making, the way you feel the game, read the game and handle the pressure – these are separate things.
‘You cannot train those things too much, but you need to find a way to improve your understanding of them.
‘You can have as talented a goalkeeper as you want, with the perfect physique, great speed and reactions and everything else, but if he doesn’t have a good understanding of the game, he will keep doing erratic things and making poor decisions.’
While casting a reflective eye over the 209 clean sheets, Cech’s thoughts in the interview turned to the 2004/05 campaign when, en route to our first title triumph in 50 years, he went 1,024 minutes without conceding a goal.
‘Everybody was talking about it, but I was just trying to go game by game because I knew that if I had two bad games, I would be out of the team,’ he recalls.
‘It was like that and it still is – if I have back-to-back awful games, I don’t think the manager will pick me.
‘So I went day-by-day, game-by-game and when you feel that something is going well, you enjoy the moment and try to prolong it for as long as possible. We weren’t thinking about not conceding goals, we just wanted to win and that’s what we were focusing on.’
Jose’s words of wisdom
Jose Mourinho answers supporters’ questions in Chelsea’s regular feature ‘Ask Jose’, with subjects covered this month including the signings of Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah, the manager’s favourite World Cup and the impending return to Stamford Bridge of Didier Drogba.
Having played his part in one of the most memorable days in our history – the 1997 FA Cup final – Frode Grodas is the subject of this month’s ‘Chelsea Icon’ feature. The Norwegian, now working as a goalkeeping coach for the FA in his homeland, remembers the victory parade that followed our win over Middlesbrough, his failure to obtain Pele’s autograph and attempting to ply Gianfranco Zola with vodka.
Petar the entertainer
Petar Borota was signed by the Blues in 1979 and with the Yugoslavian stationed between the posts there was rarely a dull moment. A real character, Borota drove managers and team-mates crazy with his theatrics, often taking to using his head and feet rather than his hands in an attempt to clear the ball. The latest edition of Chelsea looks back on his time at the club with help from the likes of Danny Blanchflower and Ray Wilkins.
Oakenfold’s all blue
In the music industry, there isn’t much DJ Paul Oakenfold hasn’t achieved, from headlining festivals all over the world to releasing successful albums. Away from the decks, he loves nothing more than following the fortunes of his beloved Chelsea. In this month’s ‘One of Us’ he looks back on his time as a Chelsea fan, hailing the arrival of Ruud Gullit, cursing his misfortune at missing the Champions League final in Munich and explaining why he would always choose Stamford Bridge over Ibiza.
For all this and more, get your copy of the latest edition of Chelsea, available now from all good newsagents and the Megastore priced £3.25.
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