Football: Arsenal's Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech to retire at end of English Premier League season

One of the world's great goalkeepers, Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech joined the Gunners from London rivals Chelsea in 2015 and holds several Premier League records, including the most clean sheets.
One of the world's great goalkeepers, Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech joined the Gunners from London rivals Chelsea in 2015 and holds several Premier League records, including the most clean sheets.PHOTO: REUTERS/ACTION IMAGES

LONDON (REUTERS) - Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech announced on Tuesday (Jan 15) his retirement at the end of the English Premier League season after 20 years as a professional and winning everything in club football.

One of the world's great goalkeepers, the 36-year-old joined the Gunners from London rivals Chelsea in 2015 and holds several Premier League records, including the most clean sheets (202 in 443 appearances).

"It has been 20 years since I signed my first professional contract, so it feels like the right time to announce that I will retire at the end of this season," the Czech said on Twitter.

"Having played 15 years in the Premier League, and won every single trophy possible, I feel like I have achieved everything I set out to achieve," he added.

"I will continue to work hard at Arsenal to hopefully win one more trophy this season, then I am looking forward to seeing what life holds for me off the pitch."

Cech started the season as Arsenal manager Unai Emery's first choice but lost out to new signing Bernd Leno after he suffered a hamstring injury in September.

The four-time Premier League Golden Glove winner has been restricted to Cup appearances since his return.

Cech joined Chelsea from French side Rennes in July 2004 and helped them win four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, the Uefa Champions League and Europa League.

He also suffered a fractured skull while playing against Reading in 2006, leading to the tall Czech wearing protective headgear.

With Arsenal, Cech has won another FA Cup and two Community Shields.

Cech kept a total of 228 clean sheets with Chelsea in all competitions, before he fell behind Thibaut Courtois in the pecking order.

He still holds the Premier League record for most clean sheets in a season (24) and went 1,024 minutes without conceding in 2004-05, a benchmark that has since been surpassed. He was capped 124 times by his country and played in the 2006 World Cup.

The North Londoners are fifth in the Premier League, ahead of United on goal difference but 16 points adrift of leaders Liverpool.

Arsenal remain in contention for the FA Cup, although they host in-form Manchester United in the fourth round on Jan 25, and the Europa League.

"For your consummate professionalism, for being the perfect role model, for the 50 clean sheets, for your honesty, your integrity and for your inspiring work with @AFC-Foundation, we want to say... thank you @PetrCech," Arsenal said on Twitter.

Chelsea also paid tribute to their former goalkeeper, tweeting: "There's only 1 @PetrCech! Thanks for the memories! A champion on and off the pitch. Enjoy your retirement, @PetrCech!"

Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright tweeted: "All the best Petr. Enjoy the rest of the season and all the best for your retirement. It has been a pleasure watching you play."

Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster said that Cech was "one of my all time favourites".

"You'll be missed Petr," he tweeted.