Euro 2016: Everything you need to know IBTimes UK

If the Czech Republic can continue the trend of performing in stark contrast to what is expected, then they could indeed be the surprise package of the European championships this summer. The Czechs have qualified for every one of the continent's premier international competitions since gaining independence, but their performances have wavered from the spectacular to the abysmal.

Their debut appearance in 1996 saw a Karel Poborsky-inspired side reach the final where they took Germany to extra time before an Olivier Bierhoff golden goal denied them a fairytale victory. A 100% record in qualifying for Euro 2000 was accompanied by a group-stage exit before, four years later, after going two years unbeaten and being ranked number one in the world, they were a victim of Otto Rehhagel's Greece in the semi-final.

Similar tragedy befell them in 2008 when Turkey turned around a two-goal deficit to reach the knockout phase.

Little was expected in their last outing in Poland and Ukraine, but they fortuitously finished top of the group only to be ousted by a Cristiano Ronaldo header as Portugal marched through their quarter-final clash.

Pavel Vrba's side are the greatest underachievers in the history of the competition, yet with their golden generation having slipped away without silverware and been drawn in a group containing Spain, Croatia and Turkey – again – they arrive in France very much under the radar.

Though they qualified top of a group which included the Netherlands, it is difficult to focus on a player being more important this summer than Arsenal's Petr Cech, who will be eager to make amends after contributing to at least one of Czech Republic's major competition failures.

Eight years ago, the Czechs were firmly on course for the quarter-finals having taken a 2-0 lead in their group decider against Turkey. Goals from Jan Koller and Jaroslav Plasil had seemingly sealed the deal with a quarter of an hour remaining in Geneva.

Petr Cech
Cech's mind will firmly be on the events of eight years ago this summer in the Euro 2016 championships. Getty

But it was via an uncharacteristic error from Cech that the Czech dream collapsed in the closing minutes. Arda Turan pulled one back with an acute finish, before the country's joint-most capped player dropped a Hamit Altintop cross, and Nihat Kahveci's converted the first of two late goals which would send the Turks through.

Cech was inconsolable at the full-time whistle. Having ended up on the losing side in the Champions League final which had come at the end of the first full season since suffering a life-threatening head injury, it was an unfortunate end to a term which had promised so much.

Many players might have been consumed by the guilt, by the disappointment and by a defining juncture in their career. It says plenty about the manner in which Cech has performed in the eight years since that the Turkish nightmare is barely mentioned, and that he has become an imperious figure in the English top flight.

Though the 2015-16 campaign was a largely disappointing one for Arsenal, there was at least one piece of silverware to show from it in the form of the golden glove award scooped by Cech after he kept 16 clean sheets during the regular season. It may rival the club's financial spread sheets for irrelevancy in the eyes of supporters at The Emirates Stadium but it highlights how Cech remains among the most outstanding 'keepers on the circuit.

But from the international perspective, may Cech still has a reputation to enhance. A Czech side without any standout stars is illuminated by the Gunners stopper, and don't expect him to fail to take a chance to play a staring role at another major tournament with both hands, this time.