It was a move that only made sense if you took every ounce of heart and emotion out of it, drained it of all notions of football romance, and replaced it with only cold, hard, calculating logic. His “football brain” was what we needed, said José Mourinho as he looked to build winners from his Little Horses. And so Barcelona’s villainous Cesc Fàbregas, Arsenal’s unwanted prodigal son, joined Chelsea in the summer of 2014.
He was just as surprised as everyone else at his decision. He was expecting a return to Arsenal, as did everyone else. Except Arsenal.
The rest, as they say, is history.
“In theory, it was not supposed to happen, me joining Chelsea [but] it was my opportunity as a football player, as a professional.”
Cesc announced himself with one of the greatest passes ever seen and would leave Stamford Bridge not only with two Premier League titles, but with tears in his eyes and sadness in our hearts. And one of the best songs of recent years.
“[...] being at Chelsea is something that I will never regret in my life; in fact completely the opposite. I will always talk about Chelsea and about my time at Chelsea as probably the best decision of my career.”
Fàbregas and his Magic Hat appeared in a Chelsea shirt almost exactly 200 times over a 4.5-year period, forming bonds and memories for a lifetime.
“When I was with Arsenal I never believed I could feel what I felt towards Chelsea. It was impossible. But this is the beauty of football.”
“When I took that chance, I never thought I would be so happy there, that I would be so successful and that I would have so much appreciation and feeling with their fans. So now I support both clubs equally.”
In his interview with the Telegraph ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup final that pits the red and blue halves of his heart against each other, Fàbregas toes the diplomatic line with the customary ease he’s honed on Twitter over the years. We obviously know where his true loyalties lie (and where most of his former teammates still play) — just as with Ashley Cole and now Olivier Giroud — though those are trivial concerns compared to the one thing that truly motivates professional football players:
“Some teams I played in at Arsenal and Chelsea were similar in terms of talent, but the difference I felt straightaway is that at Chelsea we were ruthless.”
“[Sometimes] you need to win ugly. When I was young I always wanted to play the beautiful game, but there are always five or six games a season that you need to struggle but win. At Chelsea we did that. We were very competitive and very experienced. That’s the main difference.”
INTERVIEW: Cesc Fabregas on his love for both Arsenal and Chelsea, why he respects the Arsenal fans who will never forgive him and why he's so proud of Conte's apology #afc #cfc https://t.co/PdBItr6HpV— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) July 30, 2020
That sort of confidently ruthless attitude is also what enabled Fàbregas to famously win back his place under Antonio Conte, proving the naysayers wrong once again.
“Forgetting trophies and performances, it’s probably the proudest moment of my career when he called me to his office one day and he told me ‘Cesc, I’m sorry. You were right’.
“Because in our first discussion I told him something back, I was not arrogant, but I told something. He looked at me then like ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, talk like you want — you won’t play’.
“So after that, proving him wrong, him coming to me and telling me I have a place in this team and that I’ve been doing very, very well, that was very satisfying and in the second season I basically played every single game.”
Conte reached the FA Cup final in both of his seasons as head coach, winning the second and losing the first, against Arsenal. Saturday’s final is also a rematch of last year’s Europa League final, which Chelsea won easily. But Fàbregas isn’t telling if he’s going to support Chelsea again like last season.
“Arsenal need it more. Chelsea basically every year has won a trophy, so it’s a different animal in this case. In terms of trophies, Arsenal needs it more and for confidence for next year and getting into Europe. Chelsea are in the Champions League and Arsenal has nothing at the moment.”
-Cesc Fàbregas; source: Telegraph
Cesc, that’s just the Arsenal talking. We need it just the same, if not more. We want it all. It is the way.
“My ambitions are to win absolutely everything,” said Fàbregas in his first interview as a Chelsea player.
So say we all.