The latest edition of the official Chelsea magazine is on sale now featuring an exclusive interview with Cesar Azpilicueta, discussing the importance of stepping up to become one of the squad’s leaders and the inspirational role models he has learned from during his time with the Blues.
Having completed seven years with Chelsea, Azpilicueta has become one of the most senior members of the current Chelsea squad, as seen when handed the captain’s armband for the majority of our fixtures this season.
‘Obviously it’s something I’m very proud of,’ the Spaniard told Chelsea in the interview. ‘I already take responsibility on and off the pitch, trying to give my best for the club, for my team-mates, to help to get the targets, but to wear the armband gives you extra responsibility and I always try to do the best I can and help whoever I can.
‘I’m one of the most senior players in the squad now. Some of us have been together for quite a long time so I try to help with the experience that we have here, to try to find a way to get the results.’
Of course, when it comes to leadership and captaincy, his time at Stamford Bridge means Azpilicueta has been able to learn from the best. When he arrived at Chelsea from Marseille back in 2012, he was joining a squad full of natural leaders who had just been crowned European champions. When it comes to leadership in football, there aren’t many better mentors, or more varied personalities to learn from, than the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard, Petr Cech and Didier Drogba.
‘I was lucky to share the dressing room with all of them, plus Ashley Cole and Branislav Ivanovic. There were so many players that were all different personalities, different characters, but you could learn from them because they were so successful in the team. They won every trophy but they were hungry to win more.
‘They were amazing people, amazing leaders, and we could learn a lot from them personally from the first day. But gradually they left and we have to take the responsibility. Everyone is different and we just try to keep the club at the highest level by giving everything.
‘Over the years I have played with a lot of players and I’ve had the chance to learn on the pitch, off the pitch, in every training session, every game, and experience different competitions. We were lucky to share very good memories, to win trophies together. We just try to carry on the way they made the club, to fight for trophies, and hopefully we can be successful.’
Hughes makes his mark
An undoubted leader in an earlier period of success for Chelsea was Mark Hughes, who had the chance to represent the club he supported as a boy and make a huge contribution to our transformation into genuine challengers for silverware in the Nineties.
‘A lot of my mates, all the same age, supported them and I think it’s safe to say there’s a lot of Chelsea fans because of the 1970 FA Cup final,’ explained the Welshman. ‘They were my first team and I know when I signed for Chelsea all my mates from Wrexham were delighted. I saw a lot more of them when I was a Chelsea player than I did when I was at Man United, so that was good.’
The striker also takes the opportunity to discuss his pride at helping the Blues lift major domestic silverware for the first time since he had watched that FA Cup triumph as a youngster, as managers Glenn Hoddle and Rudd Gullit revitalised the club’s fortunes.
Winners wherever they may be
Continuing the leadership theme, the latest Perfect Partners feature takes a look at Roberto Di Matteo and Eddie Newton, who became good friends while winning trophies together in Chelsea’s midfield in the Nineties, before returning to guide us to arguably our greatest-ever triumph from the dugout in 2012. Having played big roles as players in our 1997 and 2000 FA Cup final victories at Wembley, the duo were back at the Bridge, with Di Matteo as manager and Newton as his trusted assistant, as we attempted to salvage our 2011/12 campaign. We did much more than that, of course, as those two steered us to lift the FA Cup again, and to the Champions League final and a famous win in Munich which crowned us as kings of Europe for the first time in our history.
The spotlight falls on our 1988/89 campaign, marking the 30th anniversary of when a hugely popular Chelsea side won the hearts of the Stamford Bridge fans by earning promotion and returning to the top flight as Division Two champions at the first attempt. That season is remembered in full with the help of some of the key Chelsea protagonists.
The Chelsea career of one of the greatest goalkeepers ever to mind our net, Peter Bonetti, is recalled in Start to Finish which tells the story of his incredible 20-year Blues career through some of the best images from his time at the Bridge. Elsewhere, you can read Q&As with one of the stars of Chelsea Women’s season, Erin Cuthbert, and teenage defender Sam McClelland talks about moving from Northern Ireland to earn a place in our Academy.
Chelsea magazine is available to buy for £3.95 in the Chelsea Megastore at Stamford Bridge and all good newsagents. It can also be ordered online