Tuesday 30 June 2015 06:12, UK
Arsenal have confirmed the signing of goalkeeper Petr Cech from Chelsea for around £10m.
The 33-year-old, who has signed what Arsenal describe as a "long-term contract", made more than 400 appearances in 11 years for the Blues. He decided to leave Stamford Bridge after losing his first-team spot to Thibaut Courtois.
He won four Premier League titles, the Champions League, Europa League, four FA Cups and three League Cup trophies with Chelsea.
Although Chelsea were reluctant to let Cech join one of their rivals, the Czech Republic international was assured he could choose his preferred destination after his service to the club.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said Cech was one of the outstanding 'keepers in the world and would be a great addition to the Gunners squad.
He told the club’s website: “Petr Cech is a player that I have admired for a long time and I am very pleased that he has decided to join us.
“He has proven over many seasons that he is one of the outstanding 'keepers in the world and he will add great strength to our squad.”
A seven-time Czech Footballer of the Year, Cech has 114 caps for his country. He joined Chelsea from Rennes in 2004 as Jose Mourinho took charge at Stamford Bridge for the first time.
Cech told the Arsenal website he was eager to join the club following talks with Wenger, saying: “I’m really excited about joining Arsenal Football Club and can't wait to join up for pre-season.
"I have the same commitment to football, the same motivation and the same hunger for success as I had at the beginning of my career, and I love the challenges brought by the top quality players you face while playing in the Premier League.
“When Arsene Wenger spoke to me about his ambitions for this club, and how he saw me as part of this team, the decision was clear. Arsenal is a team that challenges at the very top, a side that matches my ambitions and personal motivations. At this time of my career I believe I have made a good choice and I will have the success that I would love to have.
"It was probably the hardest decision for me (to leave Chelsea), but last year I realised that I am not in a phase of my career when I would sit on the bench. I want to be playing, I want to have a chance to compete for my position in the team and I want to be useful for the team and do the usual stuff on the pitch week in, week out.
"I hope I will have that possibility to compete for my place here at Arsenal and I hope that I can bring something a little extra to the team that can help."
Chelsea described Cech as an "icon" on their official website, with the player himself posting a lengthy letter to their supporters on his Twitter page.
"I thought this would never happen but it is time for me to say goodbye to Chelsea Football Club," he wrote. "The club I have lived every single minute for since joining July 2004, the club in which I thought I'd hang my gloves and boots one day and finish my career. But life doesn't always turn out the way you think it will.
"Last summer, things changed and I understood I was no longer the first-choice 'keeper but I felt it was not the right time for me to go.
"During the season it became clear that my situation would not improve and as I know I am not at the stage of my career where I want to be on the bench, I made my decision to move on and look for new challenges."
Cech expressed his gratitude towards Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich for allowing him to remain in England, even though it meant selling him to a potential title rival this season.
He said: "I spoke to Mr Abramovich about me staying in the Premier League and I'd like to thank him from the bottom of my heart for his support in this matter. It means so much to me because without him Chelsea Football Club would not be where it is now.
"He deserves huge credit for what he has done for the club and for all of us."
Cech then hailed the Blues supporters, adding: "A huge thank you to the Chelsea fans. I did everything for you and you gave me your love back. I'll never forget it. It will stay with me forever.
"We will meet again but this time I will be in the other goal - I hope you will remember our history and understand it is time for me to begin a new adventure."
Cech’s agent Eliot van Til of Sport Invest said: “The deal was achieved through the professionalism of all parties involved and we particularly acknowledge the honour of Mr Roman Abramovich and the Chelsea directors in showing their respect to Petr’s 11 years of outstanding service by authorising this transfer – an action which was by no means easy.”