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[OC] How Petr Cech Cheated Death & Became An Icon (Greatest Premier League GK)

Hi everyone,

My name is Matthew Feyissa and I am a medical student from London. With no football going on, I have been making videos on the famous football injuries of the past. This piece is on Petr Cech and how he survived a near fatal head injury in 2006 and the origins of his iconic headgear that he can be seen wearing from that point onwards. This piece is accompanied by a video containing real footage of the injury and also some 3d medical anatomy to help demonstrate where the injuries occurred. As per usual I will attach part of the transcript below and the video link to watch alongside. If you can provide feedback (no matter how harsh) that would be great as I am trying to make sports medicine more understandable and enjoyable to watch for sports fans.

Channel: Matthew Feyissa

Link: https://youtu.be/Ib6tlcBFylM


On the 14th October 2006, Petr Cech had a near fatal collision with Reading midfielder Stephen Hunt knee. The head injury as described by doctors at the time was a very serious injury and Cech was lucky enough to not have further more devastating consequences. When asked later in a media interview Cech responded with having no memory of the injury himself.

If we look at the footage we can see Hunt came running after the loose ball however cech got their first and was able to secure it before Hunt’s knee came thumping in towards the side of cech’s head. This was a truly scary injury for cech and is the underlying reason for why he wears the headguard during matches from that moment in his career onwards. As a point of reference he is the only player I’ve seen in football wear one; it is more of a common occurrence in Rugby due to the higher proportion of head to head injuries.

So there are 2 angles at which I want to approach this injury. Firstly the actual injury and anatomical structure of the skull and then what can go wrong. So this is a 3d anatomical model which helps us visualize the body better. Here we are going to focus in on the skull. The skull is made predominately of the frontal bone, parietal bone, temporal bone, occipital bone in the head region with other bones on the anterior front portion forming the nasal and mouth region such as the sphenoid, ethmoid, maxilla, and mandible bones. If we look at the injury footage and his CT imaging we can see cech suffered the brunt of the force to the parietal bone which is typical of the injury which has a 75% occurrence rate in this region. This was dangerously close to the pterion which is the weakest region on the skull. Despite missing this region the force led to a depressed skull fracture which causes the bone to shatter and depress inwards; in cech’s case greater than 5mm. The nature of a shatter can also be referred to as comminuted which relates to a fracture that leads to more than 1 break in the bone, forming shards to bone.

This is particularly dangerous as if we remember the purpose of the skull is to shield the brain and protect is from dangerous impact. A shard especially one which is depressed an 5mm below the main exterior of the skull could potentially have pierced connective tissue in the brain leading to seizures in the long term and perhaps even worse a lacerated blood vessel. Which is so close to the brain and can lead to large amounts of blood loss where immediate surgery would be required. There are different types of bleeding in the brain referred to as a hemorrhage depending on which layer it occurs in. The 3 layers are the dura mater, the arachnoid mater and the pia mater which is the innermost layer of body tissue surrounding the brain. The most serious one I know of is the sub-arachnoid haemorrhage which is a bleed between the arachnoid and pia mater. I don’t believe Cech had this but he report having a splitting headache which is a key characteristic in the presentation especially when you consider the force at which the injury occurred in. However, this would have been ruled out quite easily with an xray scan of the brain to detect any blood pooling in the cranium.

After the surgery Cech has been wearing his iconic head protective gear which has become synonymous with him, and is somewhat iconic. In the design of the headwear, it was carried out by Adidas… (more information about how the headwear was designed in the video link above)

Hope you enjoyed the video on Petr Cech and it helped inform you of how dangerous this injury was, whilst giving you an appreciation for the legend that is Cech. If you enjoyed this I would recommend my latest piece on Eduardo’s broken leg injury playing for Arsenal back in 2009.

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