When the moment of the dreaded penalty shoot-out arrives it must be of the greatest comfort to know that between your posts stands a goalkeeper who over the course of the previous 90 minutes, and then extra time, has been well nigh invincible. Petr Čech was that man in the 2002 final as the Czech Republic overcame France 3-1 on penalties to help erase memories of their defeat at the same stage in 2000. Čech's superb display ensured the final finished goalless, and he made two more saves in the penalty shoot-out before Jean-Alain Boumsong hit the crossbar to end French hopes.
"They had a great goalkeeper, great not only in size but also in the way he played, and that made the difference," said France coach Raymond Domenech after his side's defeat. The Plzen-born No1 subsequently underlined his senior credentials at UEFA EURO 2004™, where Čech kept five clean sheets en route to the semi-finals and was named in the All-Star Squad.
Čech joined Chelsea FC that summer and went on to win successive English league titles in his first two seasons at Stamford Bridge. He was a UEFA Champions League runner-up in 2008 when, despite saving from Cristiano Ronaldo in the deciding shoot-out, he could not repeat his penalty heroics from six years earlier. A commanding presence in the penalty area and a superb shot-stopper, he was his country's No1 throughout the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals and UEFA EURO 2008™.
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