Petr Cech discusses how he nearly moved to Arsenal in 2002

The Chelsea legend nearly skipped ever playing at Stamford Bridge, if a move to the Gunners would have come off instead of heading to Rennes.

It is fair to say that Petr Cech's move from Chelsea to Arsenal earlier this week captivated the football world, such was the scale and significance of the transfer, but the 33-year-old revealed that he nearly joined the Gunners earlier on in his career, in an interview with the club website, something that would have certainly been much lower key.

"There was a chance before I went to France [to join Rennes] that I could sign for Arsenal but I was only 18 or 19 and, at that time, Czech Republic were not in the European Union," Cech told the Arsenal website.

"You needed a work permit and the conditions were to play 75 per cent of the first-team games for the national team, which, at the time, was impossible for me to get. In the end I went to France because I couldn't get a work permit."

Cech only made his international debut in 2002, so would have been some way off the necessary games to earn a move, but now, with 114 caps to his name, it's hard to believe Arsene Wenger was so close to bringing him in.

"I had a few teams who were interested but Arsenal was one of the main ones," he added. "I was so excited because of the Premier League and big clubs but unfortunately it was not the time for me to come.

"If I could have got the permission, maybe my story would have been a completely different story but here we are 10 or more years later, and now we can write the story again."

What might have happened if Cech had signed for Arsenal in 2002?

Things may have been much different all over the Premier League. It is unlikely Arsenal would have looked to sell the Czech international to the Blues at any point, and considering the decency Cech displayed when he moved to the Gunners this week, compared to others that switched across London, it would have been against his character to demand a switch.

But with Arsenal going unbeaten in the 2003-04 season under Jens Lehmann, it would have been difficult for Cech to have been involved in the starting lineup until after that campaign, which may have greatly set the young goalkeeper back in his development. 

After that though, all of the problems Arsene Wenger had between the sticks may well have disappeared, while Chelsea would have possibly been the side struggling to find a quality 'keeper. That could have meant no nine-year wait for titles, no departures of key players, and a possible tougher period for the Blues.

It's all pie-in-the-sky stuff of course, but this could have had repercussions for then Blues stopper Carlo Cudicini who dropped to second choice after the arrival of Cech.

When all is said and done, Cech will merely have to make up for lost time now he has finally made it to North London. It's not like he has had a bad career at Stamford Bridge after all.

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