Unai Emery cannot understand how anyone could question “gentleman” Petr Cech’s integrity as the retiring Arsenal goalkeeper prepares to face former club Chelsea in the Europa League final.
The 37-year-old will bring the curtain down on his illustrious playing career in Wednesday’s showpiece in Baku, where the goalkeeper could scarcely have wished for a more fitting final game.
Cech joined Arsenal in 2015 after a medal-laden 11 years across London at Chelsea, where he reportedly could return this summer in a sporting director role.
The veteran has maintained his “sole focus” is on helping the Gunners triumph in Azerbaijan and Emery insists the background noise about a potential Stamford Bridge move is not coming into his thinking.
“I respect him a lot,” the Arsenal boss said. “His career is amazing. First like a person and second like a professional goalkeeper.
“I think he deserves (us) to trust in him. Not because I am saying to you here – because his career says to us, he is a gentleman.
“And tomorrow he can start, he cannot start. I am going to decide.
“But both (ways), for him, he is due the respect. And, really, I think, how can we not believe in him?”
While Emery’s response to that question could hardly have been clearer, the Arsenal head coach suggested Bernd Leno could get the nod in goal despite Cech starting every Europa League knockout game.
“The first XI for tomorrow, you know, I want to say to the players first,” he said. “I am going to say tomorrow.
“I can’t speak about Petr Cech a lot, but above all he’s a great man, a great professional.
“He is amazing, his behaviour and his year here with us.
“It is going to be the last match tomorrow because he decided to finish his career and I want to do something important with him.
“This is my conversation with him. I want to do something important with him in the last moment of his career, playing or not playing.”
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