Cech: Benitez has left a mark on the history of Chelsea

The Blues goalkeeper says that Europa League triumph means the Spaniard will always be remembered at Stamford Bridge but is looking forward to Jose Mourinho's return
Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech says that Rafa Benitez has "left a mark" on the history of the club following his spell as interim manager.

The Spaniard was an unpopular appointment at Stamford Bridge when he replaced Roberto Di Matteo in November but led the Blues to Europa League triumph in Amsterdam against Benfica.

"Everybody knew since he came that it would be until the end of the season," Cech told Goal. "It's obviously great for him to leave a mark at the club and the history of the club by winning the Europa League.


"We qualified for the Champions League from a direct spot, which was another target of the club that he fulfilled. He will always be remembered as the manager that took us to win the European cup and it's great for him."

Jose Mourinho is on the verge of returning to the Stamford Bridge dugout to replace the departing Benitez, and Cech is excited about the prospect.

"We had amazing years with Jose, a lot of success and he's a great manager," the keeper enthused. "I think he's in pole position to take charge of our team.

"He's a manager with a lot of experience, one of the best in the world. Hopefully if he comes back he will have another go and another success with us.

"The expectation will be high again," Cech added of next season's plans. "We are in the Champions League and we know how great it is to win it, so this will be the first aim for the season.

"We would like to get back on top in the Premier League and any other competitions. This season we missed out on the Super Cup; now we will have another chance to play. We will start the season with that and hopefully we will end up with a different result than last time."

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The Czech star enjoyed a fine 2012-13 campaign despite a packed fixture schedule and a perceived drop in form in previous seasons, a success which he puts down to conditioning.

"I played almost every game throughout the season, 70 games, which is a big portion," he remarked. "We found a really good way to prepare the games with the goalkeeper coach and it really helped me go through the season. I felt fit, ready, and that was the key."

Another Chelsea goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, has excelled while on loan at Atletico Madrid this season but Cech is hoping to persuade the new boss to retain him as No.1 for now.

"In big clubs you always have competitions for places," he observed. "Obviously every player wants to keep their spot in the starting line-up and I'm the same. We will see.

"When you start pre-season everybody fights from the same line and you need to do well in the pre-season to persuade your manager that you deserve to be on the pitch for the first game. It's always up to you and your performances how you persuade the manager that you should play.

"I watched the Copa del Rey final and, for most of the game, it looked like Real Madrid might win it. They hit the post three times but then then they had chances in important times. Thibaut made great saves in extra time. That's what gave them a chance to win the cup."