Cech - Euros can inspire a generation

Petr Cech hopes he and his Czech Republic team-mates can inspire a new generation of footballers at Euro 2016.

The Arsenal goalkeeper was 14 when his nation reached the final of Euro 96, only to be beaten by Germany's extra-time ‘golden goal'.

Cech has vivid memories of the tournament, and says it had a huge impact on the Czech Republic as a whole.

“I almost caught a fever watching every game because it was so tense, hoping that we would do well,” he told Arsenal Player.

“Once we got past Portugal in the quarter-finals and beat France on penalties in the semi-finals, everybody thought, ‘What’s going on?’

“The only pity about it was that we were 1-0 up in the final and we conceded a few minutes before the end from a free-kick.

“They lost the final but obviously it’s one of the moments where you sat at home and thought, ‘It would be brilliant if one day I could play at the Euros for the national team’.

“It had a big impact on the players’ careers. Nedved went to Italy after that game because he scored, Poborsky went to Manchester United, and there were plenty of others going to big clubs. Once you have this opportunity for the players to go to play at top teams, it opens doors for everyone else.

“It’s amazing how tournaments like that can open up opportunities, not only for the players who played but also for younger players and the new generation.

“This [summer’s tournament] is a huge opportunity for those guys who dreamed about going abroad, playing in big leagues. We have some in Germany, some in Turkey, me and Tomas are the only ones currently in the Premier League.

“It’s a huge opportunity for us to show that we can play at the highest level. Maybe it can help open more doors for the younger generation.”

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