Goalkeeping Comebacks - Part Two
We are approaching the 4-week mark in lockdown, with no clear idea of when restrictions will be lifted and as such the restart of football worldwide has been the subject of much debate but with no real conclusion.
Indefinitely we will be consigned to watching repeats of Premier League Years for our football fix, but here on Sparta Spotlight we want to give you something satisfy your need.
Here is part two of our goalkeeping comebacks…
During Wojciech Szczesny’s five-year spell as Arsenal’s first choice goalkeeper which had its fair share of ups and downs, few would have envisaged that he would be keeping Gianluigi Buffon out of a Juventus side that has been all conquering in Italian football.
After the departure of Jens Lehmann, Arsene Wenger struggled to find a longer-term solution to their goalkeeping problems, and it was never more evident than in the 2010/11 campaign.
Arsenal had made the 2011 Carling Cup final where they faced Birmingham City, which would have been their first silverware since the FA Cup in 2005 and were overwhelming favourites against a Blues side in the midst of a relegation battle.
The game was level at 1-1 heading into extra time, before an inexplicable mix up between goalkeeper and defender presented the ball to Obafemi Martins to prod the ball into an empty net and grab Birmingham their major honour. Koscielny's air-kick left the ball to bounce off Szczesny who was unable to react quickly, presenting the opportunity to the nifty Martins. As always the ‘keeper would bear the brunt of the fallout.
When some would have been severely damaged by a mistake in such a big game, especially a youngster as the Polish goalkeeper was at the time, but Szczesny remained as Arsenal’s number one for the rest of the season and did so until the 2014/15 season.
A two-year loan spell at Rome later, Szcznesny made the move to Juventus for £12 million in the summer of 2017 and following the legendary Buffon’s initial departure in 2018, Szczesny has been first choice ever since, winning two Scudettos and a Coppa Italia.
The Polish ‘keeper’s recovery from an error in the final minutes to lose his side a cup final has been commendable and is quite rightly one of the most valuable in his position across the continent.
The days after a collision with Stephen Hunt during Chelsea’s clash with Reading in October 2006 left him needing surgery for a scull fracture, many feared far more serious repercussions for Petr Cech than a spell on the side lines.
The damage to his skull in the match, where his replacement Carlo Cudicini also incidentally stretchered off with concussion, left the giant Czech needing emergency surgery and a metal plate implemented.
His injury was such that you would fear that for life and not just career, but Cech, kitted out in what is now his trademark headwear, made a successful return to the game the following January and won Premier League Player of the Month for March 2007 and won the FA Cup to wrap up a triumphant restoration as one of the best in the English and European game.
The aftermath of the injury against Reading has followed Cech throughout the rest of his career and he wore the protective headgear until his retirement in 2019, before his sojourn into the world of Ice Hockey.
Petr Cech had won two Premier League titles before that faithful evening in Berkshire, and despite a life-threatening injury that would have struck fear into the hardest of men, his career post-2006 is laden with honours.
After his recovery he won; two further Premier League titles (four in total), four FA Cups, two League Cups, a Champions League and a Europa League, making him one of the most decorated goalkeepers in football history.
A recovery that must have been an arduous and sometimes seemingly impossible, Petr Cech demonstrates that sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel is even brighter than it was before.