Cesc Fabregas explains why he loves the sport of football so much, and also explores the mentality required to keep improving even after so many years at the top of the game…
To remember Cesc Fabregas’s Premier League debut, you have to travel back to the day our glorious 2004/05 season began.
Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea against Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United was the late kick-off that sunny August Sunday, the showpiece final chapter of the top-flight’s opening weekend. Earlier that afternoon the reigning champions, Arsenal, travelled to face Everton at Goodison Park.
Fresh-faced Fabregas had not long turned 17. He came straight in to the starting XI in place of injured captain Patrick Vieira and produced an outstanding performance. Described by The Guardian as ‘indefatigable and possessing an assured touch’, the Spaniard helped Arsenal, unbeaten the previous season, win 4-1.
He made a further 32 league appearances in 04/05, but it was of course the Blues who ran away with the title. Fabregas would have to wait until he moved to Stamford Bridge before getting his hands on the trophy.
‘The day we won it, I remember I just went on my knees,’ Fabregas recalls, picking out a highlight from his now 300-strong Premier League appearances. He is still only 29.
‘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.’
In his 300 appearances, Fabregas has scored 46 goals, the most recent against Swansea last Saturday, and created a further 102 more, including for Pedro’s strike in the same game. He has compared the two different sensations.
‘Scoring a goal is beautiful. It’s a fantastic feeling. If you score the goal you are on the top of everyone at that moment. But I know it’s not my job. And I love my job – which is creating, assisting, making movements left, right, forward, controlling a game. Sometimes you feel under control of a game.
‘I’m really enjoying my football right now in this position, in this system,’ Fabregas added.
‘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.'
Our no.4 hopes by the end of May to have added more silverware to his already extensive medal colleciton, and he cites the work Antonio Conte has done since arriving last summer as having paid dividends for himself, and the team as a whole.
‘He’s very demanding in that he wants to win,’ Fabregas explained.
‘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.
‘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.’