It’s been almost 11 years since Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech’s life was in the balance after a nasty collision with Stephen Hunt during a game between Chelsea and Reading.
On October 14, 2006, the Premier League held its breath after it witnessed one of the most horrific incidents in its history.
Only 20 seconds into Chelsea’s game against Reading – where the Blues would win the game 1-0 – something happened that rocked the football world, and would become a talking point for years to come.
Hunt, who was fiercely criticised for the collision afterwards, was chasing a ball from the left, while Cech quickly rushed off his line to meet him.
Cech and Hunt collided, with the Royals star’s right knee connecting sickeningly with the Czech Republic goalkeeper’s head.
Cech, who was only 24 at the time and two seasons into his lengthy Premier League career, suffered a depressed fracture of the skull.
He was rushed to hospital and underwent emergency brain surgery. At the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford, two loose pieces of Cech’s skull were removed and replaced with metal plates.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the legendary Premier League goalkeeper could have died that day in 2006.
Incredibly though, Cech was back within three months of the injury, wearing his now-signature protective head guard.
Cech would go on to add two more Premier League titles to the ones he’d already won in west London, and would become one the the English top-flight’s greatest ever goalkeepers.
Cech’s replacement that day, Carlo Cudicini, was also injured, leaving John Terry to play a short spell in goals at the Madejski Stadium.
It goes without saying that Jose Mourinho, the Chelsea manager at the time, was less than impressed with Hunt.
“Carlo I think was knocked out as a consequence of the way he hit the ground, but a knee coming at Petr like that, at such speed – the boy was even laughing afterwards.
“It was unbelievable and players should respect each other more than that.”
But Hunt would claim he was just trying to win the ball.
“I was 100 per cent intent on winning the ball,” he said. “I hope Petr Cech is not too badly hurt and hope he makes a full recovery as soon as possible.”
Cech did make a full recovery, and we’re more than glad of it.