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Thursday, May 24, 2012
Euro 2012: Czech Republic's Petr Cech

By Patrick Dorsey

UEFA EURO 2012™, one of soccer's top international competitions, kicks off June 8. In anticipation of this eagerly awaited event, Playbook is teaming up with ESPNFC to offer sights and other delights from each participating nation.

Today we turn to the Czech Republic, and its most-capped active player: goalkeeper Petr Cech, a man who has produced some special memories -- and some stunning images.

Petr Cech
Like this one, of Cech making a crucial save on Andy Carroll in the 2012 FA Cup final at Wembley.

Born in Plzen in 1982, Cech grew up to play for Czech Republic power Sparta Prague, and also the national team.

Petr Cech
Cech at Euro 2004, making a stop against the Netherlands during a group stage match.

After playing for Rennes in France, Cech made the move to Chelsea in 2004-05, and quickly became regarded as one of the best keepers in the game -- let alone the Czech Republic.

Petr Cech
Cech was named the top keeper at Euro 2004, then world's best goalkeeper for the 2005 season.

World Cup 2006 followed, the nation's first appearance in the competition as Czech Republic. But in a Premier League game in October 2006, a horrific head injury nearly cost Cech his career (and, even, his life).

Petr Cech
Cech receives treatment after a violent, frightening collision in a match against Reading.

Cech fought back, though, and returned to play 2007 for both club and country -- sporting his now-iconic headgear.

Peter Cech
Cech is all smiles before a match against Belgium, shortly after returning from his injury.

It didn't stop his success. Chelsea won the league in 2009-10. And then this happened:

Petr Cech
Cech makes a crucial save during Chelsea's 2012 Champions League final against Bayern Munich.
Petr Cech
...and, shortly after, lifts the trophy celebrating Chelsea's first European championship.

Will Cech follow it up with a successful UEFA Euro 2012™ campaign? He just might. After all, there's a reason why -- in Vienna for Euro 2008 -- Cech was the man they chose for this amazing spectacle:

Petr Cech
The wheel at Vienna's Prater amusement park, showing just how intimidating Cech can be in net.

Which country did Cech shut out at the 2006 World Cup?

The answer will be posted on Facebook later today...