Prague, May 30
Petr Cech has earned the nickname "Mr Perfect" ("Pan Dokonaly") from the Czech media but he will be seeking to leave a better impression at Euro 2012 than he did in the previous edition.
The 30-year-old Chelsea goalkeeper -- who has won 89 caps and is going to his fourth major finals -- committed a rare error in their final group match against Turkey in 2008, dropping a cross and allowing them back into the game..
The Turks were 2-0 down at the time with 15 minutes to play. They went on to win 3-2 and progress to the last eight at the Czechs’ expense.
Such a mistake was telling in that it was out of character for Cech and in stark contrast to his achievement in Euro 2004 of being named goalkeeper of the tournament, as a thrilling Czech side reached the last four.
This time round, Cech goes to Poland and Ukraine brimming with confidence, after he crowned several stunning displays for Chelsea in the Champions League with a matchwinning one in the final.
The former Rennes star, who joined Chelsea in 2004 and on Monday signed a new four year contract to keep him at Stamford Bridge, saved Arjen Robben’s extra-time penalty and then two more in the penalty shootout that saw Chelsea emerge victorious.
His footballing destiny might have been so much different without a childhood accident while growing up in Plzen.
"I began playing football when I was seven years old, as a striker," he recalled.
"But three years later, I broke a leg. Plastered, I wasn’t able to run, but I was still able to play in goal."
Cech, who enjoyed success with the national side when they won the European under-21 title in 2002 -- the same year he won his first senior cap -- took a circuitous journey to west London.
First he played for Czech minnows Chmel Blsany then domestic giants Sparta Prague before moving in 2002 to unglamorous French outfit Rennes.
Cech, who speaks seven other languages other than Czech, has flourished at Chelsea but his career almost came to a premature end in October 2006 when he fractured his skull in a collision with then-Reading player Stephen Hunt.
He was out of action for several months but now has to wear protective headgear during matches.
"Because I have already fractured my skull, no-one can guarantee that it won’t happen again," said Cech, who has also won three Premier League titles and four FA cups with Chelsea.
"No-one wants to take the risk of that reoccurring. The headgear allows me to play. I am used to it, and it doesn’t hinder me during a game."
Aside from spending time with his family when not playing football, the father-of-two has another favourite pursuit -- drumming.
"It is a great way of relaxing. To learn a U2 song after a month is an extraordinary feeling," he said. Cech has formed a mini band with his Czech team-mate Tomas Rosicky of Arsenal, who is a keen guitarist.
Both men know what they will do if they have a quiet moment during the group stage.
"There is no problem. If we find a studio during Euro, we can play together and why not compse a song for our squad," said Cech with a smile.