As Spain prepare to face Morocco in the last-16 of the World Cup, Cesar Azpilicueta has explained why he is a Chelsea player at this tournament and not a Barcelona one.
Our skipper’s future was in some doubt over the summer with the Catalan giants keen to add Azpilicueta to their ranks, but he committed to the club he has now spent a decade at by penning a new two-year deal.
Speaking from Qatar, where Azpilicueta is representing Spain, the defender told the story of what happened this summer and why he extended his stay at Stamford Bridge.
‘At Chelsea, I played less than 30 games and I was a free agent,’ he said.
‘That had never happened to me before in my life. The new owners arrived and showed me that they wanted to stay for me.
‘London is my home and my children speak better English than Spanish,’ he added. ‘When I made the decision, I think Xavi understood. If things are clear, they are understood.’
Xavi’s former Barcelona team-mate Luis Enrique is the man tasked with bringing a second World Cup title to Spain at this entertaining mid-season tournament.
Enrique confirmed on the eve of their last-16 tie with Morocco that Azpilicueta had recovered from the knock that forced him off early in Spain’s loss to Japan, and would be fit to play today if selected.
From Azpilicueta’s perspective, he is grateful La Roja are here after a group stage scare, and now he wants more.
‘When they told us that Costa Rica were going through and that we were going out, I almost had a fit,’ admitted Azpi of those dramatic few minutes in Group E when both Spain and Germany were set to miss out on the knockouts.
‘It was a group where anything could happen. Now comes the good part and we have to show what we can do.
‘We're one of the few teams that looks like one and we've achieved that through our daily work and style of play. The team has the ambition and the enthusiasm to play well against Morocco and reach the quarter-finals. We're very excited.’