Cech, who holds the record for the most Premier League clean sheets, starred in goal for the Giants, playing the first half of the game and conceding just one goal. The former Arsenal and Chelsea shot stopper travelled over to Belfast to take part in the one-off international, raising funds for Ukrainian Hockey Dream – the registered charity of the Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine.
Speaking about playing for the Belfast Giants All Stars, Petr said: “The Belfast Giants fans have been amazing throughout the season, and this game was no different. It’s been a pleasure to be here; to feel the atmosphere, to participate for a great cause, and to raise so much money. Well done to everyone involved.”
After retiring from professional football in 2019, Cech transitioned into ice hockey, joining NIHL 2 South West division side Guildford Phoenix, before signing for his current team, Chelmsford Chieftains in November 2022.
A charity owned and operated by The Odyssey Trust, the Belfast Giants were born out of a desire for peace and prosperity and made history in 2000 by becoming the first professional ice hockey team on the island of Ireland. 23 years on, still true to the club’s mantra that, ‘in the land of the Giants, everyone is equal’, the Belfast Giants have established themselves as one of the most successful ice hockey teams in the UK, having won 16 major honours, including five Challenge Cups and six Elite League titles.
During the 2022/23 season, the Giants reached new heights, winning the domestic treble – Elite League, Elite League Playoffs and Challenge Cup, for the first time in the club’s history. There’s much lauded saying that ice hockey ‘would never last’ in Northern Ireland but, over two decades on, ice hockey is now one of the largest mainstream sports in Northern Ireland.
After the charity game, a cheque for £50,000 – the total sum raised so far – was presented by representatives from The Odyssey Trust to Georgii Zubko, President of the Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine and Director of the Ukrainian Hockey Dream. A further donation from additional fundraising activities is to be announced in due course.