Petr Cech has praised Ryan Mason for showing you can achieve your dreams following the midfielder’s retirement from professional football .
Mason, 26, revealed last week that he has decided to leave the game on medical advice , just over a year after suffering a life-threatening head injury in a Premier League match against Chelsea .
A clash of heads with Gary Cahill left Mason with a fractured skull, and he required eight minutes of treatment on the Stamford Bridge pitch before surgery at London’s St Mary’s Hospital and a long rehabilitation period.
Mason will bear a reminder of that fateful night for the rest of his life; a scar on the right side of his head is evidence of the 14 metal plates embedded into his skull during surgery.
A clash of heads with Gary Cahill left Ryan Mason with a fractured skull
Almost immediately after the incident, Mason’s family were contacted by Cech, the Arsenal goalkeeper, to offer support. He had suffered a similar injury in October 2006 while playing for Chelsea, when a collision with Reading’s Stephen Hunt left Cech requiring surgery for a depressed skull fracture.
Speaking to talkSPORT last year , as he was on the road to recovery, Mason said: I can’t speak highly enough of Petr Cech . He’s set the standards of what it is to be a proper man and a gentleman.
“Straightaway [after the incident] he contacted my family and my fiancée and reassured us that what we were going through was normal and to be expected, with not being able to talk and struggling with light and everything like that.”
Mason went on to explain how Cech vocalised his own experiences which calmed both him and his partner, and revealed they had been in regular contact ever since.
And now, following Mason’s retirement, Cech has praised the 26-year-old in a tribute given to talkSPORT.
The 35-year-old said: “It really has changed since I had my head injury, because when that incident happened to me there were no paramedics, no ambulances, no escape routes from the stadium for the fastest way to get the player to the hospital.
Petr Cech's injury ruled him out for three months
“Now, obviously, everything is implemented in the match regulations and stadium regulations; Fabrice Muamba [who suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch playing for Bolton against Tottenham] benefitted from that in a huge way.
“Now you have these concussion testers, and everybody needs to make sure the player’s safety is in order. So, I think this has improved much [sic], and it was needed.
“But obviously you still cannot avoid situations like Ryan’s where you have an unlucky challenge and it ends up in a very serious injury - a career-ending injury in the end.
“But I have to admire the way he fought with the injury and the way he came back, and how hard he trained to be able to play again.
“In the end he did everything he could, and it was not enough; sometimes, that’s life.
“But it just goes to show if you really want and work hard towards your dream you just might have a chance to achieve it.”
Watch talkSPORT's entire interview with Ryan Mason, 'The Footballer Who Nearly Died', below