Fabregas: How I won Conte's trust

Cesc Fabregas has lifted the lid on the approach he took to earning a regular place in Antonio Conte’s Chelsea side, an achievement for which he is rightly satisfied.

If our midfield playmaker is selected for the line-up tomorrow against Atletico Madrid then it will be his third start in a row, and this at a time when the manager is rotating players to negotiate a crowded fixture programme.

Having been one of the mainstays of the Chelsea side that won the league three seasons ago, Fabregas was anything but a regular choice for Conte in the early month of the Italian’s first season in charge, but all that changed.

‘I was not playing and I was not really part of his [Conte’s] initial plans,’ Fabregas said. ‘At that point you can do two things; you can just give up and accept that you are not going to be part of the team or the club in the future, or you can do what I did and try to be humble, work hard, train hard every training session and show him what you can do, show him he is wrong, show that he can trust you and you can play in his team. And that is what I did.

‘Every time I had an opportunity I gave my all and I delivered and I think from there on in we started to create a relationship. I would say now that my relationship with the manager is fantastic. He trusts me, I trust him and I know what he wants from me and I know exactly what I can give to the team. I reacted very well and I am very proud of this and at the same time I am very happy because I am where I want to be and that is all down to belief, trust and hard work.’

Fabregas added that he is feeling the fittest he has done for several seasons and while understanding his manager’s philosophy, he has altered his game.

‘I have to adapt myself, especially defensively to a new role. It is not the biggest of my strengths but I still had to adapt. Last season I think the boss would never have trusted me to play in a 3-4-3 every game and I think he does now. That means he has seen something improving in me every day in training and during the games.

‘I am 30, you never stop learning in football and this what I am doing. I am learning a lot under him and I am very proud of that and happy. Hopefully it is not the end and there is much more to come.’

Included in that could be a first Champions League trophy for a player who has won so many other major honours.

‘It will be fantastic if I can get it,’ he said, ‘but it is a difficult competition and I have been playing it for a long time. I have reached quite a few semi-finals, I lost the final in a very cruel way, but it is a competition you need to be lucky in, to be very consistent, very strong and hopefully it can be Chelsea’s year. We will try our best to be consistent enough to reach the final and hopefully win it.’