KEIR RADNEDGE: So much could have been different for Petr Cech. When he was an up-and-coming young goalkeeper Internazionale looked at him but their own officials disagreed about his potential and let him slip. Sir Alex Ferguson saw him, liked him, but thought him too young.
Cech, after the weekend, can now look on a career which has brought him 13 senior trophies, 13 major individual awards and a place in Chelsea history. The 2:0 win at Hull was Cech’s 209th clean sheet in all competitions for the Blues, one more than old favourite Peter Bonetti.
That achievement is even more impressive in that Cech needed 272 fewer games than Bonetti to reach the landmark. Cech has taken 457 matches in nine-and-a-half years to match a record that Bonetti set over almost two decades during the 1960s and 1970s.
In overall Premier League status, Cech ranks second to former England keeper David James. But whereas James kept 169 clean sheets in 572 games Cech boasts 150 in 310 which is almost one every other game. No wonder he was and remains one of most important players at Stamford Bridge for manager Jose Mourinho.
He represents a guarantee of security on the pitch and in the dressingroom for a team whose fourth successive win lifted them – temporarily at least – to the top of the table.
Cech, with John Terry the only league ever-presents this season, said: “It’s a pleasure as a personal achievement but I’m most pleased that all those clean sheets helped us win trophies. I will invite Peter for a drink. I’m stealing his record so I think it is only right.”
For all his success, Cech has lost none of his ambition. He added: “The most important thing is that we keep winning games and winning trophies. We want to win the league if we can and hopefully clean sheets will help us achieve our targets.
“Now we’re top of the league for the first time in a long time and we hope to keep going. We are getting better all the time. This was a very difficult game but we were solid in defence and good in attack. We are also a young team and hopefully we can take advantage of that.”
Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres, on his 200th Premier League appearance, scored Chelsea’s goals at Hull. Hazard’s goal was hailed mightily by the travelling Chelsea fans after speculation over big-money interest from Paris Saint-Germain.
The club is adamant that Hazard is staying at Stamford Bridge. As Mourinho said: “The club has made that decision because every manager wants a player like him.”
And, of course, like Petr Cech.