They’ve known each other for thirty years; they played on the same team, went to school together, lived in the same neighbourhood. Roman Javurek says: “We don’t talk as often as we’d like, but I know I can always rely on Petr and tell him everything.”
So you don’t see him as a global football star?
I admire him for everything he’s done, hats off. But we both know fame is a fleeting thing. However, a true friendship lasts a lifetime.
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you say Petr Čech?
It’s silly. You’ll probably laugh.
Mostly I like to remember coming back from our training sessions.
What do you mean?
Back when we were kids we played for Škodovka Plzeň, and we used to get this drink called Vitacit, a fruit-flavoured powdered drink mix that you put in water. Do you remember it?
Sure. It was a sweet powder, children loved it.
We used to take the powder on the tram back home, pour it in our hands and lick it directly from our palms. First we took tram number 2 from Skvrňany, where our school was, all the way to the city centre, where we changed to tram number 4 which took us home.
Home to Lochotín?
Yes. I lived at 73 Kralovická street and Petr lived a hundred yards from there. We had no computers or mobile phones, we spent most of our free time outside, running, doing sports. We used to play ball hockey at the housing estate, among the old drying rack. And once the pond had frozen over we’d immediately put our skates on.
Was he always a talented athlete?
He was good at whatever he put his mind to. He had a knack for sports and he was very competitive. And he worked hard. On the ice, he’d immediately get into the goal, it seemed to fascinate him.
I’ve heard that story.
And did you know he made himself a catch glove and a blocker so he could have his own equipment? His mom helped him make it.
Now be honest, aren’t you jealous of him? After all, you both started at the same starting line.
Jealous? I wouldn’t think of it. First of all, I’m not the jealous or envious type, and second, I know how much Petr has sacrificed to get to where he is now. More than any of us. When we started to play as kids, he immediately showed he could be better than the others, he flew through all the age groups, advancing faster than anyone. And then he started playing for Blšany, a top tier club, when he was only seventeen years old.
I’m a police officer, I work for the Plzeň municipal police. It’s a fulfilling job.
First I played in the junior league in Plzeň, that’s when Petr’s star began to shine and he got ahead of us. Then I went to Přeštice on a loan and then to other second and third tier clubs. Now I go to Germany to play occasionally, I even get a little money for that.
By the way, have you visited Petr in London?
Just once, when he was still playing for Chelsea. It was a match against Manchester City and it ended in a goalless draw, so I didn’t see any goals. I’m just sad José Mourinho wasn’t there yet, I like him as a manager.
Maybe you’ll get to see him one day.
I’m not sure about that. Petr keeps offering me to come visit him again, maybe I should take him up on the offer. I’d love to see Arsenal from backstage. And God knows how long Petr will continue in his career. Personally I hope he’s still got many goalkeeping years to come.
P.S. The following chapter coming up next week!
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? …