October 14, 2019 / 4:28 AM / in 6 months

Ice hockey-Dream debut for nerveless Cech in penalty shootout win

Oct 14 (Reuters) - Former Premier League goalkeeper Petr Cech proved himself a cool customer no matter the surface on Sunday, saving twice in a penalty shootout on his ice hockey debut to help fourth division Guildford Phoenix beat Swindon Wildcats 2.

The 37-year-old, who made more than 600 appearances for Chelsea and Arsenal, called time on his soccer career at the end of last season but announced last week that he was joining Phoenix and would play for the British team in his spare time.

Cech, currently Chelsea’s technical and performance adviser, was named man-of-the-match for his heroics in goal and said he had surprised himself with his coolness under pressure in the penalty shootout.

“I was surprised that I wasn’t more nervous. I didn’t know what to expect so it was nice how quickly my body switched into match day mode,” said Cech, whose last soccer appearance was in the Europa League final between Arsenal and Chelsea in May.

Cech is a lifelong ice hockey fan who played the sport as a youngster before switching to soccer.

He wore the jersey number 39 in tribute to former goaltender and two-times Stanley Cup champion Dominik Hasek, who played in the American National Hockey League for 16 seasons and helped the Czech Republic win gold at the 1998 Olympics.

“It was a childhood dream for me to play even one game of ice hockey,” added Cech, who also wore a helmet emblazoned with the logos of both Arsenal and Chelsea. “I’ve done that now and nobody can take that from me.

“If you have a dream, you chase it and you do everything to make it happen. I’ve done that in football and all my dreams have come true.

“I said, ‘this might be the last dream I was hoping to (achieve)’. But I worked hard for it. I think it can act as something for the young players to know that if you chase your dreams, then good things might happen.” (Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Jennings)

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