Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Čech is planning to retire from soccer at the end of the season, ending the career of one of the best netminders in the Premier League.
“This is my 20th season as a professional player, and 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,” Czech said Tuesday in a statement.
The 36-year-old goalkeeper has a record 202 clean sheets in his 15 seasons in the Premier League since joining Chelsea in 2004 from French club Rennes.
At Chelsea, he won the Champions League, four Premier Leagues, four FA Cups, three League Cups, and one Europa League.
Čech’s career was in doubt in October 2006 when he required surgery for a skull fracture after a collision with Reading’s Stephen Hunt. The keeper was out for three months and has since worn a protective headguard during games.
After 11 years at Stamford Bridge, Cech moved to Arsenal in 2015. At the beginning of the current season, Čech became the first choice for Arsenal manager Unai Emery. But after seven games he picked up a hamstring injury against Watford and lost his starting role to Bernd Leno.
He has only played in Europa League and cup games since.
“Having played in the Premier League for 15 years, and won every single trophy possible, I feel like I have achieved everything I set out to achieve,” Čech said.
He already retired from international soccer after the 2016 European Championship following his record 124 matches for the Czech Republic.
“I will continue to work hard at Arsenal to hopefully win one more trophy this season,” Čech said, “and I am looking forward to seeing what life holds for me off the pitch.”
In a statement on their website, the club added: “Petr recently informed us of his decision. Like all football fans, we are sad about this, but completely understand and support Petr.” “A champion on and off the pitch,” said a message from Chelsea. “Enjoy your retirement.”