by Nia Griffiths

It turns out that before we completed the signing of Petr Cech from Chelsea at the age of 33, the goalkeeper had appeared on our radar when was a teenager.

Speaking to Arsenal Player, the Czech international said, “There was a chance before I went to France [to join Rennes] that I could sign for Arsenal but I was only 18 or 19 and at that time Czech Republic were not in the European Union.

However, he ran into complications involving his work permit.

“You needed a work permit and the conditions were to play 75 per cent of the first-team games for the national team, which at the time was impossible for me to get,” the keeper said. “In the end I went to France because I couldn’t get a work permit.”

He continued, “I had a few teams who were interested but Arsenal was one of the main ones. I was so excited because of the Premier League and big clubs but unfortunately it was not the time for me to come.”

Another chance to join the Premier League came when Chelsea bought him from Rennes and the 33-year-old took a shining to the league. Even though he could’ve potentially joined sooner, he has no regrets.

“It was later with Chelsea, and I’m obviously grateful for that, but you can never prepare the ways in your life and you’ll never know where you’ll end up. Here we are and I hope that I can replicate all I’ve managed to achieve in the past decade.

“If I could have got the permission,” he added, “maybe my story would have been a completely different story but here we are 10 or more years later, and now we can write the story again.”

Cech only played 70 games at Rennes before moving on to Chelsea where his career flourished and before that, only 12 matches at Sparta Prague. There was obviously something about him, even at a young age, that showed his future potential.

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At Chelsea, he became one of the best goalkeeper in the world with the help of his coach, Christophe Lollichon, who had traveled with him from Rennes and hopefully, will also be on his way to Arsenal.