Interview

'Schmeichel, Van der Sar and Casillas inspired me'

Petr Cech is closing in on 200 Premier League clean sheets.

Our goalkeeper is one away from the landmark and could reach it as early as Friday night, when we host Liverpool at Emirates Stadium.

So many young keepers look up to Cech, but who did he look up to when he was making his way in the game? Turns out there were quite a few - for different reasons.

“Peter Schmeichel, because you could see his huge presence in the Man United goal and then I think as well that at that time he had a different approach to any other goalkeeper,” Cech told Arsenal.com.

“Everybody else played on the line and he was more advanced. He was more aggressive in his positioning, cutting down the angles, and he was not afraid to take more risks. So I think that was something you look up at and you think about. His presence and influence in the box was big.

“Then there’s Edwin van der Sar. When he started playing for Ajax, suddenly they used him as a defender when they needed to keep possession. When there were difficult moments they just passed it back to him and he played. That was the first team you saw at that time really using the goalkeeper as a member of the team to play, not only to play a goal-kick and be there to save the ball.

“You realise that it is going to be the way forward because why wouldn’t you use an extra player if you can? Nowadays, it’s one of the basic skills that the goalkeeper has to have because most of the teams use the goalkeeper to help if needed.

“There’s also Gianluigi Buffon, he started very early, and then Iker Casillas when he started at the age of 16 or 17 with Real Madrid. Obviously he’s only one year older than me and I was thinking, ‘if he can play at the age of 17 at this level, why couldn’t I?’ You get reassured that everything is possible if you work hard and if you are ready, then you have a chance to do it regardless of what people say about a goalkeeper needing to be 30 years old.

“I think this is one of those examples where we changed a little bit of the culture,” added Cech. “Buffon started at the age of 18 and then the younger goalkeepers like Casillas and Pepe Reina, who started when he was 18 with Barcelona. Then you realise it’s not about the age, it’s about the quality.

“I started playing in the Czech league when I was 17, so I think it helps that you can see the examples around and suddenly people started to think about qualities rather than age and I think the new generation now has an advantage, because the same as with the players, you don’t wait for people to turn 30 to have experience. If they are 18 and they are good enough, you put them in and you take them through the learning process.”

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