The night that changed Petr Cech’s life forever 
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Chelsea fans were somewhat surprised this week to see former player, and current Technical and Performance Advisor, Petr Cech included in the clubs 25-man Premier League squad.

According to the club, Cech has been included in the squad as emergency goalkeeper cover - a precautionary step due to the unprecedented conditions currently caused by the Covid-19 crisis. He takes up a position as a non-contract player. 

  • It was a no-brainer 

Speaking to Chelsea’s official club website, Manager Frank Lampard “felt it was a no-brainer to have Pete in the squad,” and the 38-year-old had been training with the other goalkeepers for a little while now.

“It helps with their training and it helps me to know that he is passing on that quality and experience to the goalkeepers. We had a space in the squad, we know this year looks like no other because of Covid and what it might do to selection and isolation through the year, so it was a very easy decision. Pete still does his day job, but he is there if we need him.

“He has taken on his role at Chelsea which he does very well, he is very helpful to me and we work very closely. Whether we will see him [playing] much this season I am not sure. It depends on how the season goes and on Covid and isolation, but I certainly felt it was a no-brainer to have Pete in the squad for that reason. It can only help the goalkeepers we have to see one of the world’s best in the modern era amongst us.”

  • His life hung in the balance 

The move comes just over fourteen years to the day that Cech’s life was turned upside down at the Madejski Stadium against newly promoted Reading.

Just 15 seconds in to the match, Stephen Hunt, Reading’s Irish midfielder, collided with Cech. Hunt sprinted in an attempt to connect with a long ball, played over the heads of the Chelsea defence. However, his knee made contact with Cech, leaving the goalkeeper with a fractured skull, which required emergency surgery and left him with a life that would never be quite the same.

Recalling the incident with Sky Sports back in 2016, Cech admitted his life hung in the balance and explained the fortunate circumstances that means he is still here to tell the tale.

“The doctors tried not to scare me too much and I never asked too much. But if you ask my wife, even now, she does not look too well. For her, the experience was a thousand times worse than it was for me. It was a very close call.

“I lost consciousness, then I came around again. Some people, they did not like me too much because I was confused and sometimes when you're confused you try to fight!

“The decisions of Bryan English {the then Chelsea Doctor} and the medical staff and the proximity of Oxford - that's the combination that gave me a chance.

“I had a depressed skull fracture. A few pieces of bone went in quite deep, that was the biggest danger. The more they go in, the left side of the brain is quite an important centre of movement. Anything could happen”. 

Cech ended up having two metal plates fitted. As for his career, he was told, at the very least, to forget the rest of the season. But just three months after his life-threatening injuries, he returned.

“I have to say a lot of people did not want me to return a quickly as I did. It was my decision and my will to come back to what I was used to doing and what I love," he continued.

“Once the surgeon said the skull is strong enough with the helmet on, I decided to return to training with the team. Two days later, we travelled to Liverpool - which I did not tell my wife at the start, I told her I'm just travelling with the team.

"But the manager said to me, 'You want to go to watch or you want to play? You tell me. I said, 'OK, we're already here. Let's try'."

  • Life-saver 

This incident changed health and safety measures and regulations at clubs within the league for the better. Every club is now obliged to have a doctor in the dugout, two paramedics must be on the sidelines and an ambulance must be on standby at each ground. 

These changes have already made a huge impact. In fact, they helped save the life of Fabrice Muamba who collapsed on the pitch playing for Bolton Wanderers at White Hart Lane during an FA Cup Quarter Final against Tottenham Hotspur in March 2012. 

Despite having to wear headgear for protection for the rest of his career, Cech went onto become an all-time Premier League great, and win many honours with Chelsea between 2004 and 2015, including Premier League titles and the Champions League

It remains to be seen whether Chelsea fans will see arguably their greatest-ever goalkeeper put on the shirt and grace the turf at Stamford Bridge once more. But, one thing is for sure, Cech has made a huge contribution to the Premier League and Chelsea are lucky to call him their own.

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