There are goodbyes and then are goodbyes.
And then there is César Azpilicueta, sitting in a room overlooking Stamford Bridge, and trying formulate words to say goodbye to the place he’s called home for the past eleven years. The place that he will just call home ... forever. The place to where he hopes to return some day, perhaps in a non-playing capacity.
Dave’s written farewell is fairly perfunctory. It hits all the notes you expect it to hit. Coaches, staff, players, fans. Thanks to all. The trophies we’ve won. The memories we made. No shortage of either.
But it’s Azpi’s goodbye video that truly reveals the depth of emotion that he has for us. And if you suddenly found the room a bit dusty while watching it, know that you’re not alone.
Dave is one of our greatest legends. Beyond just the numbers. Beyond just the trophies. The last embodiment of an ideal. We may not fully appreciate that right now, in the moment, but will surely come to appreciate in the years and decades to come.
He arrived to a team that had won the Champions League as the final act of an era. He led us back to that promised land, and we’re now once again on the verge of a brand new era — an era in which he hopes to see Chelsea back to where we belong.
His final words of advice, words of encouragement, words of motivation should be played to and heeded by every player.
“It’s difficult to express with words what I feel. It’s been incredible. And just ... thank you to everyone because it couldn’t have happened without the help of a lot of people. [...] Those moments that I take with me will last forever. This is my home, and I hope to see everybody here back one day. The love they have showed me every single time is something that I’m really proud of. Hopefully we can keep this relationship forever.
“[...] I’ve been really proud of defending this badge on and off the pitch. It has been my life, here. So many amazing memories here not only on the pitch, but off the pitch as well. [..] It’s been quite a journey and I couldn’t have imagined to be the captain of this football club. And I feel like I gave everything. I loved it. I really enjoyed it. [...] When I first arrived at the training ground and I could all the trophies on the wall ... you want to be there and you want to be part of the history of the club.
“[...] For me, it’s very important to go in good terms, with the club, with the new ownership. I’m grateful to them for having honest conversations and for showing me the respect. Chelsea is my home, it will always be, and hopefully I can come back in a different role. I can only wish the best because I think everybody at this football club, from the staff to the fans deserve the best and hopefully the targets can be accomplished in the next years.
“I just want to say, every time you are part of this club, that you give your best. That’s how I learned to be part of Chelsea. The demand is really high, the commitment to the club, to the fans every single day even in tough moments when maybe it’s easier to go through a different path, that’s the moment where you have to show the personality, the soul of the club, all together, pushing in the same direction. I know that Chelsea will be back where it should be.”
“To the fans [...] I’ve tried to give back all the love and support you have given me since I arrived [...] The relationship will stay forever and hopefully I can come back one day here to say a proper goodbye to all of you.
“Keep supporting the team, the club that you love. You are the soul of the club. Keep going. I love you all.”
-César Azpilicueta; source: Chelsea FC
Farewell, Dave. Good luck at Atlético. And then when you’re done playing, we can begin our second chapter together.
¡Hasta luego, oh captain my Capitán!