He had been doing that for nearly a yr when the pandemic struck. All of a sudden, he discovered himself dragged again to a life he thought he had left behind. “We had been fortunate to have the ability to end the season,” he mentioned. “However no one knew what number of gamers would get the virus, and we had actually strict numbers and restrictions. Usually, if a participant will get injured, you’d take somebody from the academy, however as a result of we needed to be in bubbles, that was not attainable.
“At one level, we had been brief a goalkeeper, so the answer was both I stepped in, or a goalkeeping coach did. I used to be match, so I mentioned OK.” It was meant as a precaution, a type of emergency cowl, however Cech was nonetheless greater than adequate to be a viable choice. He was briefly registered on Chelsea’s squad checklist for the Champions League this season.
His major focus, although, what all of his different pursuits should swirl round, is his new position. Cech is — by English soccer’s requirements — one thing of a rarity. In sure elements of continental Europe, and particularly Germany, it’s not uncommon for high-profile gamers to eschew teaching and transfer into front-office roles instantly after retirement: Marc Overmars and Edwin van der Sar at Ajax; Leonardo at Paris St.-Germain; nearly the whole off-field hierarchy at Bayern Munich.
England is just now catching up. For probably the most half, the place Premier League golf equipment make use of a technical director, it’s seen as a place for a recruitment specialist, somebody who can navigate the uneven, unpredictable waters of soccer’s switch market. Edu Gaspar, at Arsenal, and Cech, at Chelsea — each appointed final yr, each with huge expertise as high gamers — are exceptions.
For Cech, the enchantment of the job lies in how totally different it’s from taking part in. He had thought in nice depth about what he would do after he retired. He had, he mentioned, realized after fracturing his cranium in 2006 that “it took solely a cut up second for the whole lot to be completed.” He knew he needed to be ready.
He studied for his teaching licenses whereas nonetheless taking part in — on worldwide obligation with the Czech Republic, he mentioned, “there was all the time time” — but it surely occurred to him that coaches, primarily, stay the identical life as a participant: “You spend time coaching, touring, at video games, in motels. The routine is identical.”