Cesar Azpilicueta enters his eighth season as a Chelsea player today but says he still has the same hunger and drive to succeed as when he first joined.
Since his arrival in 2012, Azpilicueta’s importance to the team has steadily grown and he begins the 2019/20 campaign as captain following the departure of Gary Cahill. It is a new dawn with Frank Lampard taking charge of his first game at Manchester United this afternoon.
‘I’m still excited before the season starts,’ Azpilicueta said. ‘I’m still hungry obviously to win more and improve. We’re looking forward to starting the season and we have to adapt as quick as possible. We need results straight away. We have been working together very hard and now it’s time to get the results.’
With former team-mate Lampard in charge there has been a change in focus from life under Maurizio Sarri, which Azpilicueta says is typical of the ex-midfielder.
‘When he was a player, I could feel his hunger and determination in every training session and every game, always to keep winning, and what I see from him as a manager here is the same, the same desire to keep winning and competing,’ he explained.
‘Every manager is different and during pre-season we have been changing the system and players as well. We have to pick up quickly what the manager wants from us. He has been very clear since the beginning of pre-season and we are trying to improve every session and pre-season game to get to the best condition for Sunday.’
Wearing the armband obviously brings with it added obligations and this season, Azpilicueta’s experience will be crucial with younger faces around him.
‘Through the seasons I have been getting more responsibility and this season even more,’ he said. ‘We have a young squad, young players coming in and it’s my responsibility on and off the pitch to lead by example and try to get them in the right direction and help them when they need.
‘All of them have their dream opportunity to be first-team players and be important for the club. They have to take that responsibility to grow and feel they have to be important for the next few years.’