Cesar Azpilicueta’s new Chelsea contract confirms that the Spaniard will surpass 10 years with the club. As we look forward to another two seasons of Azpi at Stamford Bridge, here’s a look back at his first decade with the Blues.

The ever-dependable defender has earned the admiration of the Chelsea fans since arriving here on 24 August 2012, as well as the trust of all his team-mates and coaches over the years, while admirably fulfilling several roles in the team in a number of systems. In addition to his natural position at right-back, the 32-year-old has featured as a full-back or wing-back on both sides of the pitch, as well as more centrally on the right of a back three.

However, arguably the most impressive thing about Azpilicueta’s time at the Bridge is the way he has repeatedly stepped up to the challenge and proven himself an important part of the team over and over again. When he first joined Chelsea ahead of the 2012/13 season, the then 23-year-old faced a tough task breaking into the side, with Ashley Cole and Branislav Ivanovic well-established here after winning the Champions League the previous season.

However, the Spaniard went from strength to strength over the course of the campaign after making his debut in a 6-0 home win over Wolverhampton Wanderers in the League Cup, becoming a near ever-present at right-back by the end of the season under his countryman Rafa Benitez. That saw him playing a key role as he ended his first year at Chelsea by lifting a trophy, playing the full 90 minutes as we beat Benfica in the Europa League final in Amsterdam.

A change of manager resulted in Ivanovic being Jose Mourinho’s preferred option on the right early in the next season, although Azpilicueta’s first start of 2013/14 did bring his first goal for the club, in a 2-0 League Cup win at Arsenal. Cesar’s versatility was soon demonstrated, though, following an injury to Cole.

A fine performance when filling in on the left at Schalke in the Champions League made the spot his own, a situation which didn’t change even after Cole returned to fitness. Again, Azpilicueta had forced his way into the manager’s plans and contributed immensely to the Premier League’s best defensive record, as we conceded just 27 times in 38 games and he was named our Players’ Player of the Year.

He continued as first choice at left-back despite the signing of Filipe Luis for 2014/15, again being a vital member of the team as Azpilicueta sealed the first league title of his career, making 29 Premier League appearances as well as helping us keep a clean sheet in the League Cup final win over Tottenham Hotspur.

The defender’s first league goal for Chelsea sealed a 3-2 win over West Bromwich Albion early in the next season, our first of the campaign, before he later reverted to his natural position on the right of our back line under Guus Hiddink, ending 2015/16 having made more appearances for the Blues than anyone else.

Another change of role soon arrived, with the introduction of a back three following Antonio Conte’s appointment as head coach, and Azpilicueta excelled on the right side of it, as an impressive run of clean sheets contributed to a club-record sequence of wins.

He would go on to play in every minute of every Premier League game in our title-winning 2016/17 campaign, only the fourth outfield player ever to do so for the champions, and it was his assist which led to the Michy Batshuayi goal at West Brom which ultimately secured that status for Chelsea.

By now Azpilicueta’s leadership qualities were also coming to the fore and he captained Chelsea on 21 occasions in 2017/18, in addition to enjoying his best campaign to that point from an attacking point of view. He scored three goals and set up plenty more, particularly through his excellent understanding with fellow Spaniard Alvaro Morata, although it was his defensive prowess on show in a clean sheet at Wembley as we beat Manchester United in the FA Cup final.

Returning to right-back in a defensive four in Maurizio Sarri’s side, Azpilicueta made more appearances than any other Blues player for the third successive season, culminating in him leading the team out in Baku for our 2019 Europa League final win over Arsenal. His only goal of the campaign, a late equaliser at Cardiff City, turned out to be a crucial one in the top-four race too.

His status as captain was made permanent following the departure of Gary Cahill in 2019 and Azpilicueta’s versatility would prove vital in his first campaign as full-time skipper, featuring in four different positions as Frank Lampard frequently shifted formations.

His experience played a big part when football returned following a hiatus during the Covid-19 pandemic, playing every minute for the remainder of the Premier League as we homed in on Champions League qualification, although his presence was missed when an injury forced him off with the scores tied at 1-1 in our FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal.

The continuing emergence of Reece James meant Azpi’s opportunities were more limited in the first half of 2020/21, even if his selfless attitude meant he was still an important figure at the club, helping to guide a youthful squad full of potential but light on experience.

However, he was straight into the starting line-up after the arrival of Thomas Tuchel in January, then provided the first goal of our new head coach’s reign, by scoring the opener in a 2-0 win at Burnley. A season which had started with the ever-resilient Azpilicueta on the fringes would end with arguably his greatest moment at Chelsea.

Switching between the back three and wing-back, he missed just three games in all competitions for Tuchel, leading by example in big games to produce some of his best performances for the club, before becoming only the second Chelsea captain to lift the Champions League trophy when we beat Manchester City in the final in Porto. His contribution was recognised as one of four Blues named on the 30-man shortlist for the 2021 Ballon d’Or.

Azpilicueta’s latest season at Stamford Bridge underlined his status as one the most successful Chelsea players of all time, as he captained us to two more trophies in the form of the UEFA Super Cup and, for the first-time in our history, the FIFA Club World Cup, completing his own clean sweep of major silverware in the process. As the Chelsea supporters sang on our return to the Bridge, he’s won it all.

Those trophy successes were followed by a major landmark when Azpi captained the side for the 200th time, in the 1-1 Premier League draw with Manchester United in April, five years after he had first worn the armband, at Wembley in a 4-2 FA Cup semi-final win over Tottenham.

It has been quite a Chelsea career for Cesar over the last 10 years, creating plenty of memories at the Bridge, and thanks to our skipper’s new contract there is even more to look forward to in the coming seasons.