London, July 8 (IANS) Veteran goalkeeper and Czech Republic’s record appearance holder Petr Cech on Friday announced his retirement from international football to focus on his club career.
The 34-year-old national captain holds a record 124 caps for his country and played all three games as Pavel Vbra’s side exited Euro 2016 at the group stage with just one point.
Cech made his senior international debut in 2002 and went on to represent the Czech Republic at Euro 2004 — where they finished third — and the 2006 World Cup before captaining the side at Euro 2008. He also went on to play at Euro 2012 and Euro 2016.
“I’d considered it even before the Euro. It was by no means a decision I could arrive at in a day. Last season I’d already realised that my body suddenly needed more time for regeneration than before, and I didn’t have that time. And I felt I could no longer give my 100 percent on all fronts,” the Arsenal goalkeeper said on his website.
“I’d like to enjoy my career for as long as I can, and for that reason, I need to lay off somewhere. I didn’t feel like taking part in a future qualification stage and then leave in the process, since I doubt it would change my mind. Therefore, it’s better to end the chapter now.”
Asked to evaluate his career, Cech said: “I always dreamt about featuring on the team at least one single time. In the end, I got to play with them more than anyone else before me. That wasn’t my priority, but it still feels nice.
“It just goes to show that I’ve managed to maintain my form over the past 14 years, all the while staying number one goalie with all the managers we’ve had.”
Cech picked qualifying for the 2006 World Cup as one of his most thrilling moments, he rued that they could only finish third in the Euro 2004. They lost to eventual champions Greece 0-1 with an extra-time goal.
“I wish we’d made it all the way to the European Championship finals in 2004 since the team definitely had what it took. We missed it by inches,” he moaned.