Petr Cech says Arsenal are ‘on the verge of making history’ after they beat Valencia 7-3 on aggregate to secure a place in the Europa League final.
The Gunners will face Chelsea in Baku on 29 May as we try to win a first European trophy since George Graham brought home the Cup Winners’ Cup from Copenhagen in 1994.
We’ve lost our last three UEFA finals, going down to Barcelona in the Champions League in 2006, Galatasaray (on penalties) in the 2000 UEFA Cup and Real Zaragoza in the 1995 edition of the Cup Winners’ Cup.
For Cech, who will likely start in goal, the occasion will be extra special. Not only is he facing the club with whom he won both the Champions League and Europa League, he’ll also be playing his final game before hanging up his gloves and helmet.
After last night’s win in Spain, the 36-year-old was in buoyant mood. “You have to believe in your dream and that’s the only way,” he told Arsenal.com.
“To work hard is one thing, but you really have to believe dreams can come true otherwise it might not.
“I’ve always been doing it in my life and my career believing that it might come true.
“Throughout my career I actually did some of those dreams and my last dream as a professional footballer is to win the last final.
“I’m very happy we went through this difficult test today and we really deserve to go through.”
Cech went on to highlight how important the occasion will be for the supporters, who’ve had to wait a long time to taste UEFA success.
“I think we are on the verge of making history for Arsenal Football Club.
“It’s such a fantastic football club and I feel like our supporters and everybody connected to the club deserve the joy from winning a European final so hopefully, we can do the last step and win it for them.
“They’ve been supporting this club with all their energy and they’ve been waiting long, so hopefully we can end this wait.”
The Gunners now face a long wait – 19 days – before their date with destiny. There’s going to be a lot of pressure on the team to get the win, especially as it would secure us a place in next season’s Champions League. Cech hopes his two decades at the top will come in useful when calming the nerves of his teammates.
“I think this is where real experience can play a part because you can speak to people and guide people through,” he said.
“When you reach a European final there’s a lot of pressure on everybody so you have to make sure as a senior player that everybody goes to the game prepared.”