Cesc Fàbregas is two months shy of his 30th birthday, a milestone in normal life that’s often seen as the beginning of the end in professional football. But I’m sure if we asked him, he’d say he’s nowhere near said end. He’s still living the dream.
Born just north of the city of Barcelona, Fàbregas has been in football for two decades, joining Barcelona’s La Masia academy at age 10, moving to England at age 16, going back to Spain eight years later, and then returning to England three years after that. In the meantime, he’s won just about everything and anything possible, including two European Championships and a World Cup with Spain. But one trophy that avoided him for the longest time is the one he cherishes the most other than his national team successes.
“The day we won it, I remember I just went on my knees. It was such a big relief. I remember I had competed a lot of years, sometimes we were close, sometimes not so much, but I really tried to give a lot everywhere I have been in the Premier League and to finally achieve it was one of the best moments in my career.”
“You can win a World Cup or a Euros, which is maybe the best a player can win, but when you’ve been trying to fight for a trophy for so many years, when you came close sometimes, you gave so much and fought so much for it and in the end it happens, it was personally a big achievement.”
Cesc’s first two years back in England have been rather eventful, winning a League and League Cup double in his first season, and then cratering to a 10th place finish amid much acrimony and palpable discord. His third year however is looking great once again, although he himself has taken on a slightly reduced role. Still, he seems happy enough to stay and continue winning things.
“I’m really enjoying my football right now in this position, in this system. It’s more of a double pivot that we are playing now. You touch a lot of the ball, you control games, and I like it a lot because you play a lot with the ball, you can play forward, and I’m enjoying it a lot. I’m very happy and I hope I can improve more.”
Constant improvement is one of the core tenets of the Conte way, and the new Chelsea head coach has made it his mission to improve each and every player under his command. Work, fight, improve. Pay attention.
“He’s very demanding in that he wants to win. He puts the word ‘win’ in our brain nearly every day — win, win win. Improve, improve, improve.”
“That’s a mentality we have to follow. That’s very important. In football you can be the best in the world, you can play with the best in the world, you can have played 1000 games or scored 1000 goals, but the most beautiful thing about football is that you can always improve.”
Since Conte’s taken over, Fàbregas has been regularly linked with moves away from Chelsea. A slow start to his season, alongside a thigh injury did not help turn that narrative, but both coach and player have been rather complimentary of each other and adamant that this is not Cesc’s last season at Chelsea.
Of course, nothing’s ever guaranteed in football, but Fàbregas has become a rather important part of Chelsea over the last couple years — a fairly shocking development, if we think about it, given his history against Chelsea with both Arsenal and Barcelona — and hopefully that will continue. His new role, which he seems willing to continue to cultivate, as an impact substitute and spot starter is the perfect way to deploy his specialist skills.
“You are doing what you love. Obviously there are hard moments. Not everything is fantastic. You have to be ready for that, but there is something about the ups and downs football gives you that is the reason why we love this sport so much. Even the difficult moments make you stronger and better. To always have the mental strength to overcome them is fantastic, and to be on top of the game for so many years, since a very young age, makes me proud.”
-Cesc Fàbregas; source: Chelsea FC