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Cech: Arsenal rejected me

Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech has revealed that Arsenal passed up the chance to sign him in 2002, suggesting the Gunners felt he was not good enough for life in the Premier League.

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Cech, 28, has become one of the finest keepers in world football during his seven-year spell at Stamford Bridge, but he could have been plying his trade in north rather than west London had things panned out differently.

The Czech Republic international was watched by Arsenal's scouts while he was at Sparta Prague but they were put off by him not qualifying for a work permit and he ended up heading to French side Rennes.

The work permit may have been a stumbling block, but Cech has suggested Gunners boss Arsene Wenger was informed by his scouting network that the keeper was not good enough.

"Before I went to Rennes I was watched by Arsenal but when I couldn't get a work permit the situation was missed," Cech is quoted as saying in The Sun.

"And at the last minute I think the person who was the chief scout at Arsenal didn't think I was good enough for the English league. So in the end it didn't happen."

Chelsea have put themselves back in the title race with a strong run of form and Cech is looking for the Blues to continue the forward momentum.

"We're more secure at the back and we still have the opportunity to catch Manchester United if they start dropping points," he said. "We are still dependent on all the others. But we have to win, win, win, keep the pressure on.

"What is essential for a club like Chelsea is to have the stature of a club playing in the Champions League next season.

"We have some big games coming up and there are teams around us who are battling for it as well."

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