The goalkeeper´s name is Petr Čech. „It´m hugely honoured. I only had to wait quite long,“ Petr admitted.
I had 11 unsuccessful attempts how to reach the record milestone but I succeeded against Watford: „When I began in England I would never think of spending here the following 13 seasons and even of reaching 200 clean sheets“
Let´s recap it.
The first clean sheet and right to Manchester United. Do you remember?
I admit that match is the most significant memory for Premier League. Despite all the trophies.
At that moment I realized: You made it! You´re playing in Premier League, Petr! The players I used to adore on TV suddenly stood against me and I caught their shots. It was a fairy tale during which I also felt it cannot end after one or two successful chapters. I would never even dare to think spending the next 13 seasons here in Premier League and on top of that to claim 200 clean sheets.
The first match was unique also by the fact you played with Chelsea at the home stadium Stamford Bridge and beat Manchester United 1-0. It was 15th August 2004.
I was so concentrated on the match so I didn´t sense the surroundings. The only goal was scored about 15 minutes by Eidur Gudjohnsen and I remember I was surprisingly little busy. Paul Scholes shot once and 20 minutes before the end Ryan Giggs headed from the edge of the 6-yard box. Luckily he missed too so I had my first clean sheet.
100 clean sheet happened in the match against Bolton. Do you remember?
I found out that I´m the fastest 100-clean-sheet-holder in the league history and I broke Peter Schmeichel´s record. To reach 100 zeros in 180 matches, that means something. A man then realizes that if he plays his best, he can go even further. Suddenly I had 150 zeros and you say to yourself: Damn it! The record is so close. If you make it, you can leave unerasable individual mark.
You made it! Were you nervous?
I more told myself that it´s a stunner. A foreigner who came here from Rennes writes Premier League history.
You reached David James 169 record in the half of December 2015. How was that?
I already played for Arsenal and I don´t even remember the match against Aston Villa. We scored two quick goals and the match was done. I realized David James needed to reach this number 7 seasons more.
Two weeks later the record was broken.
Against Bournemouth. I saved the jersey as a memory and I let all the players participating this match to sign on it. It was a remarkable moment. I have to admit that when it was clear at 2-0 we´re gonna win I watched the time and only wished the end.
If we recap all your clean sheets, do you remember the special ones in Premier League? What is the most amazing?
Blackburn February 2005 comes to my mind. A hard match full of fighting. I needed 2 more minutes to break a history record in Premier League. Paul Dickov kicked a penalty against me. I chose the right direction and surpassed Peter Schmeichel who did not concede a goal for 727 minutes. Schmeichel is one of my idols so I was very happy. This match also confirmed that Chelsea could win the league. I can´t also forget the sweet zero at Stamford Bridge where I came with Arsenal as an opponent.
What was your easiest clean sheet?
I can´t remember. In Premier League your opponent never gives up even if the match seems decided so no zero is easy. Some of them can be easier than others but if you don´t stay concentrated until the end you can´t easily lose it. In May 2010 we beat Wigan 8-0, which meant Chelsea reached another champion trophy. But our opponent had a big chance before the end. I remember the sharp ball touching my fingertips and flew out.
What else can you thing of?
The match against Sunderland at Stamford Bridge. Terrible cold, 2 degrees above zero, it was raining. We won 5-0 and I didn´t touched the ball during the match. You can say it´s an easy zero? On one hand it is but you have to stay concentrated until the last second. I remember my teeth shivering by the cold last 20 minutes and I pushed time with my eyes for the match to end.
Because of the clean sheet?
I though about it as well. But I thought about having a shower with the same intensity.
Which zero is the most important?
It´s difficult at 200. Basically I take all of them at the same level because it always gives a chance to team to one-goal victory. It´s my job. A man trains hard every day to win at the weekend and not to concede a goal. I´m quite good at it even though it hasn´t been like that recently. There´re a lot of 1-0 results during the season and they decide about how successful the team would be. Zero is a base for the goalkeeper but not everything. I always say I rather win 5-4 that tie 0-0.
I get it.
You need to win to reach the trophies, not to gather zeros. Zeros are bonus in case you win. And also in the situations when you know you opponent was better and 1 point is better than nothing.
Have you ever heard about yourself that you are a zero?
You only concede cheap goals as last time in Brighton or Swansea and it pours everywhere. It works like it in our branch. Goalkeeper is like a punchbag. If anything fails, he´s in it.
So I wish you to be as successful in future, too. By the way, how many clean sheets would you like to add in Premier League? Especially if you keep almost 50% success rate?
Until I play it will always be my goal to win and help the team by a clean sheet. I don´t want to be greedy but if I play like 2 or 3 more seasons it could increase highly. But now I´m excited and I really appreciate where I got. I think it´s incredible.
Allow me to digress a little. I would like to thank one of the men who helped me at the start of my career. …
My first goalkeeping experience wasn’t bad, but there was still a dilemma: what to do with me? …