An emotional Petr Cech says his teammates didn’t deserve to end the season empty-handed after Chelsea ruthlessly killed their Europa League hopes with a 4-1 win in Baku.
Playing in the final game of his career, the 37-year-old put speculation about a return to Chelsea to one side to deliver a series of stunning saves that kept the score down.
While Cech found the result difficult to swallow, he was at pains to stress how much hard work has been put in behind the scenes this campaign and that he thinks the Gunners will be stronger next year, even in his absence.
“I’m proud of myself, obviously, I’m as well, proud of the way I played today,” he told BT Sport.
“When you play your career game in a final, there’s a lot of pressure, a lot of speculation and things about Chelsea. I had to perform and I can say I’ve done everything.
“I can look back and have no regrets about today apart from the fact we worked so hard in the whole year and in the end we have nothing.
“It’s something this group of players probably don’t deserve. The people who come every day, the supporters, they can’t see behind the scenes how much work has been done this season.
“It’s easy to say we have finished empty handed, no cup, we lost 4-1 but I can assure everybody that supports Arsenal that the work we have done this season will come [good] next season and this team will be much stronger.”
Cech, ever the professional, also made clear that he was unwilling to comment on his future while still under contract at the Emirates.
“I’ve kept saying to everybody, I want to lift this trophy and then sit down and think. Until the 30th June, I’m still an Arsenal player. People forget that. Until that point, I won’t decide anything.”
He wanted a fairytale ending. But it wasn’t to be. While he’s not been a Gunner for long, everybody can appreciate the contribution Cech has made to football in England over the last 15 years. We wish him all the best with whatever he does next.