Unai Emery has paid tribute to Petr Cech after the veteran keeper announced his decision to retire at the end of the season.
Having left an indelible mark on the European game, tributes to the 36-year-old have poured in from across the football world in the last 48 hours.
Like his peers, Emery agrees the veteran deserves respect for a career that has seen him win 18 major honours since making his first team debut in Czech football 20 years ago.
“I think he’s a very big person,” Emery told press ahead of Arsenal’s game with Cech’s former club Chelsea.
“As a person I’ve only known him six months. After that, I know him like a player.
“A great player with a lot of titles in his career and I think the respect to him is very big for me and for all the football world.”
It’s unclear whether Arsenal would have offered Cech a contract extension when his current deal ends in the summer, either way, the boss says he firmly respects the player’s to walk away while at the top.
“His decision is a very, very personal decision and I respect him,” said Emery.
“He said to us at the beginning of this week and when he said to us I wasn’t surprised but I respect him because he was thinking with his family for this decision and we can only say to him after, every player in the team, we want to do this way and at the end of your career find good moments with you.”
There have been reports that Chelsea are eager to offer Cech a role at Stamford Bridge. Asked if the Gunners might consider adding him to the coaching roster, Emery added:
“Now it’s very difficult to speak about that. I want to enjoy the last four months with him and to finish in a good way together, to find our objective with him. I want to enjoy it with him.”
Having fallen behind Bernd Leno in the keeper pecking order at the Emirates, Cech looks likely to spend his final months playing the cup competitions. How great it would be for him to sign off with another cup, possibly even a European title.