Arsene Wenger is delighted that he has finally got his man after a pursuit of Petr Cech that began over a decade ago.
The Arsenal manager, who was speaking ahead of The FA Community Shield clash with Cech’s former side Chelsea, revealed he tried to bring him to north London before he eventually joined Jose Mourinho’s outfit in 2004,
“Before he went to Chelsea we were interested because the guy that brought him to Chelsea was a good friend of mine,” said Wenger.
Arsenal v Chelsea
The FA Community Shield supported by McDonald's
3pm, Sunday 2 August 2015
Wembley connected by EE
Live on BT Sport
“One of the guys who was the agent told me there was an exceptional goalkeeper who played at Rennes.
“He was very young and one of my assistants, Boro Primorac, his son was a player in Rennes and he said they had a very good goalkeeper. So we knew. In the end I think Chelsea were a bit quicker than us.”
Despite Arsenal’s interest, Cech ended up moving to Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2004 – and went on to become one of the most successful goalkeepers in the club’s history.
During his 11-year stay he won four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups and two FA Community Shields.
He also conquered Europe while in west London – winning the Champions League in 2012 and the Europa League a year later.
But after the emergence of Thibaut Courtois as Chelsea’s new man between the sticks, at the age of 33 Cech took the decision to move to the Emirates.
Wenger cited past examples to show that age is no barrier for top-class goalkeepers.
“He has a good combination between quality, agility, size. He looked like he was built for English football. I think he’s a very bright boy as well,” he added.
“His movement is a little similar to Edwin van der Sar. He moved to Manchester United at a similar age and had five or six years there.
“So I don’t see why he should not have a few years. He’s very serious, he trains well so there should be no problem.
“He has an intimidating presence in goal, that is for sure. He can make the goal look smaller and that’s the kind of charisma he has.”
“This may be the first time for a long time that we have rebuilt confidence in our environment”
And with Cech on board, Wenger says confidence in the camp is high as the new season approaches.
“The expectations are very high," continued Wenger.
“We have as well a very big support and people expect a lot from us and this may be the first time for a long time that we have rebuilt confidence in our environment, because before we lost all those big players and you are quickly questioned.
“The ingredients are there but I’m long enough in the job to know you have to prove that with points.”
Petr Cech will make his Arsenal debut against Chelsea in The FA Community Shield on Sunday 2 August. The game kicks off at 3pm and is live on BT Sport