Former goalkeeper Petr Cech admits ice hockey hurts as much as football

Chelsea, Arsenal star starts life as netminder with Guildford Phoenixin Britain's fourth-tier competition

LILLE, FRANCE - OCTOBER 02: Chelsea technical and performance advisor Petr Cech inspects the pitch prior to the UEFA Champions League group H match between Lille OSC and Chelsea FC at Stade Pierre Mauroy on October 02, 2019 in Lille, France. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
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Facing his first-ever ice hockey game in Britain's fourth-tier competition, former Chelsea and Arsenal keeper Petr Cech insists there are few differences between the two sports.

"When you get hit by the puck in the wrong spot, it hurts even when you're wearing the padding," Cech said on Saturday.

"But then, when someone hits you from a meter's distance in football, it hurts too," added the 37-year-old who retired from professional football in the summer.

On Wednesday, Cech, who currently works as a technical and performance adviser at Chelsea, announced signing up as a netminder with the Guildford Phoenix. Founded in 2017 and based just south of London, the Phoenix are facing the Swindon Wildcats' reserve team in the fourth tier of Britain's ice hockey system on Sunday.

Cech said he was not afraid of the much rougher sport despite wearing a protective helmet even as a footballer following a skull fracture he had suffered in a 2006 Premier League game.

"The puck will hit you hard through the trapper but then you end up with a bruise at worst, that's no disaster," Cech said.

He found other parallels between football and ice hockey, the two most popular sports in his native Czech Republic. "The warm-up will be the same as what I did in football," said Cech.

"And the pre-match skate has a similar structure as the warm-up before a football game," he added.

"Also the coach gives you information before the game, tells you what he wants from the team and you."

"The only difference is that I don't know anything about the opponents here – I would be able to gather more information at Chelsea," Cech complained.

Like in football, the goalkeeping chore was the obvious choice for Cech, who loved watching and playing ice hockey as a child. "I wasn't keen to turn into a forward. I can only skate well enough for a netminder – I don't think I could play up front," he said.