Arsenal qualify for Europa League final: Petr Cech says Chelsea game is dream end
Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech says it is the “ultimate dream” to face former club Chelsea in the Europa League final in the last match of his career.
The Gunners booked their place in Baku after beating Valencia 7-3 on aggregate in the semi-final.
Cech, 36, will retire after the final but has consistently played in Europe this season, despite dropping behind Bernd Leno in the Premier League.
“Arsenal v Chelsea will really be very emotional for me,” he told the BBC.
“The ultimate dream would be to lift the trophy for the last time in the last game,” he added in an interview to be broadcast on Saturday’s Football Focus show.
“Hopefully we can win the final and have the fairytale ending to my career – something that would be special.”
The former Czech Republic international believes he could continue playing, but “wanted to retire on my terms”.
“I’ll be 37 soon but it’s not about the age,” he said, speaking before Arsenal’s 4-2 second leg win in Valencia on Thursday sealed a spot in the final.
“I could play for another two years but having played for 20 years at the professional level, I feel that my body has got some scars and my biggest fear was to start the new season and get injuries and not be able to do things 100%.
“The time has come. It might be one or two years early, but I prefer that to being one year late.”
Arsenal will play London rivals Chelsea in Baku, Azerbaijan on Wednesday, 29 May and manager Unai Emery said he was “proud of the whole club” after their impressive victory at Valencia.
Leading 3-1 from the first leg, Arsenal fell behind to Kevin Gameiro’s opener before Pierre-Emerick Aubemeyang struck an impressive hat-trick and Alexandre Lacazette scored another as Arsenal progressed to their first European final since 2006.
Emery believes his side take “confidence from their strikers taking chances”.
The Gunners boss told BT Sport: “We knew we had to be calm after they scored and we needed to control our emotions. It is very difficult to score four goals against this team because they are very organised.
“It is very difficult to play in finals and we took our opportunity today which we are happy about.”
Aubemeyang and Lacazette have been pivotal in Arsenal’s route to the final, having scored 13 competition goals between them, and the former says the club have “learned from last season” when they were knocked out by Atletico Madrid in the semi-final.
“This year we didn’t make the same mistakes,” the Gabon striker told BT. “Now we are through to the final.
“We have talked a lot about our relationship [with Lacazette] and it is a pleasure to play with him, above all, when you win games like this.” – bbc.com