Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 19 October 2019

Arsenal and Chelsea star Petr Cech sets new goal as he signs for ice hockey club

Decorated Premier League legend gets his skates on after 20 years as a professional footballer

Petr Cech, in action with his last club Arsenal last season, has joined British ice hockey team the Guildford Phoenix. PA
Petr Cech, in action with his last club Arsenal last season, has joined British ice hockey team the Guildford Phoenix. PA

Former Chelsea and Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech is swapping football for ice hockey after signing to play for a British league team as a goaltender.

The 37-year-old Czech, who retired from playing in the summer, said he was reigniting his passion for a sport he first played as a youngster by penning a deal with the Guildford Phoenix and could make his debut when they host Swindon Wildcats 2 on Sunday.

"After 20 years of professional football this is going to be a wonderful experience for me to play the game I loved to watch and play as a kid," said Cech.

"I am delighted to have the opportunity to play with the Phoenix to get the match experience. I hope I can help this young team to achieve their goals for the season and try to win as many games as possible when I have the chance to play.

"After 20 years of professional football this is going to be a wonderful experience for me to play the game I loved to watch and play as a kid."

Cech, who made 124 appearances for the Czech Republic, won four Premier League titles, five FA Cups, three League Cups, the Champions League and Europa League during his time as a footballer in England. He is currently technical and performance advisor at Stamford Bridge.

Posting on Twitter after the announcement, Cech said: "Some people seem to think I've changed my job. No I didn't.

"Luckily my job at Chelsea doesn't stop me in my spare time from playing the game I loved as a kid and which I've been playing for years. While being a professional footballer I couldn't play the game for obvious reasons. Now I can."

In 1998, the 16-year-old Cech was captivated as the Czech Republic dramatically triumphed in the Winter Olympics in Japan. He said: "It was in Nagano so the ice hockey quarter-finals, semi-finals and final were all in the morning, so I didn't go to school. We all tried to find a way not to miss it.

"That year was the first the NHL allowed all the best players to go and participate, so people called it the Tournament of the Century, because every nation could choose any player they wanted from every competition. This time is the same so it will be exciting."

Guildford, who were founded in 2017 and based just south of London, are in the fourth tier of Britain's ice hockey system.

The club’s head coach, Milos Melicherik, a former professional hockey player from Slovakia, said: “We are very excited to have Petr join the Phoenix team and we are looking forward to seeing him in action this weekend. He has improved a lot since I first saw him on the ice and I am excited to see him play.”

Updated: October 10, 2019 09:30 AM

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