It was almost a perfect farewell for Cesc Fàbregas yesterday at Stamford Bridge: a win, a goal, and a lap of honor. But Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Luke Steele showed impressive range for a 34-year-old in stopping the penalty arrowing towards the bottom right corner. And so Cesc had to settle for just a win and plenty of applause, some of which even left the former Arsenal- and Barcelona-man in tears.
“With the penalty, when I stopped in the middle of my run I saw the goalkeeper going down and I thought that I had it, so yes, it is unfortunate but the day I did 100 caps for Spain I also missed a penalty!”
From a hated rival (remember his clashes with Frank Lampard and Mikel John Obi?) to a beloved pass master, leader, and hero, it’s been quite a journey for Cesc at Chelsea. But these 4.5 years have been just the last third of his 15-year professional career. Even he can’t believe he has been going that long!
“It feels like it was last week I started playing professionally and now it is over 15 years.”
But of course he’s nowhere near stopping, and is now taking his passing talents to scenic Monaco, where there’s a team in need of rescuing from the relegation zone.
“[Passing quality] is always something that I have had and it feels like growing up and getting older, it is one of those things that really does never go away because it is technique. Physicality goes away from all of us unfortunately when you get older, you lose speed, you lose some sharpness, but technique I think is something that always stays with you when you have something, so hopefully it can stay with me for a very long time yet.”
As Cesc begins the next chapter of his storied career, others are just beginning their first.
“[Hudson-Odoi] has got everything to make it in world football. I have told him that if he does not really make it at the very top I will be disappointed because he is one of these talents you can see can be fantastic. He can be world class, so he just needs to keep his feet on the ground, keep working hard. He is a humble boy, he really loves playing football and hopefully he can really make it very soon.”
It’s words like those that make it clear that Cesc leaves behind not only a massive gap in the Chelsea midfield, but also leaves the team without one of its leaders — not just on the pitch but off of it as well. Many, not just Hudson-Odoi, would be well advised to heed his final advice.
“My little advice is to enjoy it every single second because it goes so fast. In football you have to be ready every three days, you have to live with criticism, you have to live with everyone saying how good you are — up and downs — and you just think I am young, I have time but time really does fly, so enjoy every single second of it.”
-Cesc Fàbregas; source: Chelsea FC