While he may not yet officially play his football in England’s top tier, many would argue that Marek Cech is indeed a top-level player. The enterprising left full-back has some serious competition at international level in the form of Radoslav Zabavnik, but remains a very valuable asset for Slovakia’s coach, Vladimir Weiss.
Utilised four times during his country’s qualifying matches for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, the West Bromwich Albion defender has the unusual distinction of having never lost a FIFA World Cup qualifier in a Slovakia shirt, despite playing a significant role in the 2006 and 2010 campaigns.
Cech is something of a lucky mascot for the national side then, as well as being an excellent performer on the pitch. Able to play left midfield whenever the need arises, the Slovak also knows what he is doing in front of goal, having scored five times in 38 international appearances. This versatility was instilled in him at an early age, while coming through the junior ranks at Inter Bratislava. Once in the first team, the trophies began to arrive, including two consecutive league and cup doubles, in 2000 and 2001. When Sparta Prague persuaded Cech to cross the border into the Czech Republic in 2005, success followed in his footsteps, as he not only collected another league winners’ medal, but also won his first cap for Slovakia. After a year, he decided he needed to test himself further, this time with a big move to Portugal.
In the famous blue and white of Porto, Cech was nothing less than a sensation. In three seasons, his classy left boot made him a firm favourite with the Estadio do Dragao faithful. He played a key role in two Portuguese Championship-winning sides and experienced the unrivalled excitement of UEFA Champions League nights. But far from being satisfied with these achievements, he set himself a completely new challenge in 2008, that of getting WBA back into the English Premier League. With that particular mission accomplished in style, Cech will be hoping his Midas touch can extend to the pitches of South Africa this June.