Petr Cech: Europa League Final vs. Chelsea Is 'Perfect Way to Finish My Career'

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistMay 10, 2019

VALENCIA, SPAIN - MAY 09: Petr Cech of Arsenal celebrates after the UEFA Europa League Semi Final Second Leg match between Valencia and Arsenal at Estadio Mestalla on May 09, 2019 in Valencia, Spain. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)
Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech believes that retiring after facing former club Chelsea in the UEFA Europa League final will be the "perfect way" to end his career.

The Gunners set up a final with Chelsea on Thursday as they beat Valencia 4-2 (7-3 on aggregate) in their semi-final, while the Blues beat Eintracht Frankfurt on penalties after their semi-final ended 2-2 on aggregate.

Cech spoke to BT Sport about hanging up his gloves after the final:

"For me, it is a perfect way to finish my career with a final and against my ex-team," he said (h/t MailOnline's James Dutton). "It's spectacular for me, and I hope to be able to win as well. That's what I want to do. I want to win the cup for Arsenal and finish my career."

He added:

"You have days when you play well and you think you could continue but I've made the decision to retire with a lot of thought. 

"I could possibly go on another two years but I'd rather retire too early than too late. I wanted to do it on my terms. 

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"With all my experience I can compensate for the match rhythm with my preparation.

"The key is always how you prepare in training and I always behave the same whether I am starting or on the bench. 

"I always feel confident that I'm ready to play. The last dream was to play this European final and it has come true. Now the dream is to win it."

The Gunners secured their place courtesy of a hat-trick from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and a strike from Alexandre Lacazette (U.S. and UK only, respectively):

Cech, who will turn 37 before the May 29 final, made 494 appearances for Chelsea over 11 seasons between 2004 and 2015.

He won four Premier League titles with the Blues and as many FA Cups, as well as three League Cups, the UEFA Champions League and the Europa League.

The veteran has played 138 times for the Gunners since he left Chelsea, though he lost his No. 1 spot this season to Bernd Leno following his arrival last summer.

He has made 10 appearances in the Europa League, though, including every game in the knockout phase:

All three honours Cech has won at Arsenal—the 2015 and 2017 Community Shields and the 2017 FA Cup—came in matches against Chelsea, though David Ospina was selected ahead of him in the latter.

If manager Unai Emery were to be ruthless, he would start Leno in the final because he's the Gunners' best goalkeeper.

It's unlikely he will drop Cech after playing him throughout the knockout phase, though, and the match will be a fitting way for him to end his career.

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