CECH LOOKING TO BREAK RECORDS IN NEW MAG
The latest edition of Chelsea magazine features the ever-dependable Petr Cech, who reveals an ambition to continue playing for the club for many years - and to win more trophies in the process.
It's been an astonishing year for the Czech Republic international, with two more trophies added to his collection as he helped the Blues to a fourth FA Cup in six years, while a masterclass in consistently unflappable goalkeeping enabled Cech to finally get his hands on the highly-coveted Champions League trophy after he saved three penalties over the course of the Munich final back in May.
As if that wasn't enough, the Czech international has also broken the record for the most appearances by a foreign player at Chelsea, having played in nearly 400 matches for the club, and with a new four-year contract recently signed, Cech's record is unlikely to be under threat for a while.
'Well, if I play every game, like I've managed to do for the past couple of years, then I can get another, let's say, 130,' he tells the club's official magazine.
'Actually, that's just in the league - if you add in the cup games, then it could get to 200.
'That would take me to around 600 - which is a huge number - but, first, I need to get to 400. That is also a big amount of games for a foreigner to come over to England and play, and one which I consider to be a great achievement.
'It's happened while I've been playing for one of the top clubs in the world and to still get so many games is fantastic on a personal level.
'I'm also closing in on 100 caps for the Czech Republic. I need two more to reach that, which I think may actually fall with a qualifying match at home. That would make it a lot more special than doing it in a friendly in a country far away.'
Cech's presence between the sticks for the Blues has not gone unrecognised by the Stamford Bridge faithful, who have repaid his remarkable performances by voting him the sixth most revered Chelsea player of all-time in last month's top 100 players' poll - a higher ranking than any other goalkeeper in the club's history.
'Sixth place is fantastic - there are certainly no complaints from me about how the fans voted,' he said. 'If you see all the people who used to play for this club, it's a massive achievement.
'It's always hard to pick the players in order, as the eras are different. If you count the number of players who have passed through the club, it is a lot - and a lot of great players.
'When it comes to being the highest-ranked goalkeeper, I am so proud of that, considering how important these players have been at Chelsea.
'If you go back to when Peter Bonetti was at the club, everyone said he was a fantastic goalkeeper and he is still a huge legend now; when he comes to Stamford Bridge, it's not just the older generation that speak about him. He's a great guy as well, which people appreciate.
'Then, you ask guys who followed later and they'll say Eddie Niedzwiecki was a fantastic keeper, the same for Kevin Hitchcock, Dmitri Kharine, Ed de Goey. Then, Carlo [Cudicini] took over from him and the fans loved him. When I came, I hoped it would be the same for me, but I knew what a big task it was.
'You can go all the way back to Fatty Foulke, in fact. The history for goalkeepers here is huge - and I hope it continues.'
Elsewhere in this month's magazine, interim manager Rafael Benitez reveals his joy at his return to Premier League football and the silverware opportunities it affords, as well as explaining what sort of player he was before he swapped his boots for the coach's clipboard, and just what exactly he has been doing during his two years away from the dugout.
Thome-ing it down
Former centre-back Emerson Thome is the latest Chelsea old boy to come under focus in this month's publication. The no-nonsense Brazilian recalls fondly his nine-month spell at Stamford Bridge, including his participation in British football's first ever all-foreign XI, a memorable Champions League victory over Barcelona, and why he considers himself to be a 'pain in the a**e!'
Cups of competitions past
As the current champions of Europe, Chelsea reflects on our rich tradition of reaching, and winning cup finals. This month the magazine casts an eye back over Chelsea's first taste of European glory for 27 years, the 1998 triumphant European Cup Winners' Cup, with the aid of club legends Gianfranco Zola, Gianluca Vialli and Dennis Wise.
This issue's '10 reasons why we love…' looks at the impact made by Chelsea's foreign imports on the club over the years. From Nils Middelboe's proof that overseas players are not by any means a modern phenomenon, to the sense of pride achieved when learning to pronounce a new signing's name, there can be no doubt that foreigners have contributed as much to the club's success as any British player.
The latest edition of Chelsea is priced at £3.25 and available from the Megastore and all good newsagents.