Chelsea January signing Enzo Fernandez has given an interview covering his football story so far. Having heard yesterday about his first football steps and clubs in Argentina, today we move on to his switch to Portugal and experiencing huge success in Qatar.
The first part of the interview concluded with Enzo coached by former Blues star Hernan Crespo and winning a league title with River Plate in Buenos Aires. That preceded his move last summer to Lisbon and Benfica…
‘That’s changed my life,’ Enzo said. ‘I’ll always feel grateful to Benfica. They’ve opened the doors of Europe to me. I feel very thankful for what the club’s done for me, with the directors, with my team-mates. They’ve put in a lot of trust in me. Not to mention the technical staff, who have given me loads of support and love ever since I landed there.
‘The city’s great! I’ve been very happy there. Now I’m here, playing for Chelsea, and I feel equally grateful for the confidence they put in me. They’re great, and I’m happy.
‘Moving from Argentina to Europe was a huge change for me and for my family,’ the 22-year-old added. ‘But I’ve always felt accompanied by my beloved ones, by the club. They’ve both given me love and support at all times. Whenever I was in need of something, they’d be ready to help. It was a beautiful experience. I learnt a lot there.
‘It was an abrupt change for me and for my family,’ he continued, ‘but I always tried to give my best to keep learning and evolving as a player.’
It was not long after his move to Portugal that Enzo also made the progression at international level into the senior Argentina side. It is safe to say it has gone rather well!
‘That was back in September last year. I had to play two friendlies. I also trained the year before with the squad, in 2021. I spent a week training with the squad. After that, I did not play for the squad for a year.
‘However, I always tried to train myself and play with my style. It’s always been my lifelong dream to defend my country’s colours. That’s priceless. I feel thankful for everything we’ve won together: the World Cup trophy. That was a historic achievement since we had not clinched such a title for such a long time.
‘I had the privilege of being part of that squad, and I’m so grateful for the technical staff, as they’ve trusted me and led me to win that amazing trophy.
‘Everything happened at a dizzying pace,’ he admitted. ‘Playing on loan for Defensa, becoming a champion with River, moving to Benfica. Now I’m here, I won the World Cup this year. Everything happened really quickly. I try to enjoy these moments as much as I can, but always be responsible.’
By the end of the World Cup in Qatar, not only had Enzo secured a winners’ medal, he was also in possession of one of the major individual awards – for being the best young player of the tournament. Another award, for the best player overall, was to no one’s surprise handed to his Argentina team-mate Lionel Messi. It turns out Enzo several years earlier added his voice to the many who called for their hero to change his mind when he toyed with retiring from the international scene.
In November they were side-by-side when Enzo rose from the bench to score in Argentina’s second group game at the World Cup, helping them recover from the opening match shock defeat against Saudi Arabia.
‘It’s true the first game was not what we expected, and we did not get the result we wanted,’ Enzo said. ‘But in any case, we demonstrated that we were calm, focused and united. Luckily, we became world champions, and that really is priceless.
‘I’ve always said Leo Messi was a player I look up to. I’ve always tried to learn from him. He’s a great person and has given me love and support within the team. I also had to face him when I played for Benfica in the Champions League, as he played for PSG. Right after that, we became team-mates in the Argentina squad.
‘He’s a great person. Very humble, hard-working. He deserves everything he’s achieved in football.’
Enzo talks about the time when it was not going so well for the international team, over five years before he was personally involved.
‘I remember we went through tough times with the squad, and the press criticised Leo [Messi] so harshly. I tried to explain how I feel about him. I asked him to stay, as he said he wouldn’t play for the team anymore. I defended him to stay with us, playing for the squad. I was pretty young back then!
‘He means a lot to everyone in the world. He’s a legend for Argentina. He’s a loved person, an idol for all Argentinians, for our children. As a person, I have no complaints about him. He’s always given me so much love. He’s always respected me and was a great team-mate in all senses. I’m very thankful for having played with him.
‘Everything happened so fast that I’m still shocked!’ Enzo said more generally. ‘I try to enjoy these moments and football, as that’s what I’m passionate about. I’ve always dreamt of this.
‘I’ve never felt any kind of pressure on my shoulders. Never in my life. I’ve always tried to enjoy. I do what I love! I always try to give it my all, with no pressure. Enjoying these moments is the most important thing.
‘I’ve always longed to play in the Premier League. Chelsea FC has given me the opportunity to play here, and I feel grateful for their trust. I love everything about the club, I’m so happy with my team-mates and technical staff. Honestly, ever since I landed here I felt at home. I’ll always try to give it my all along with my team-mates to achieve the greatest things for Chelsea.
‘The World Cup is like reaching the sky! For me, that’s the everlasting glory. But one needs to keep the focus and self-belief.
‘I’ll always try to have confidence in us, to win everything possible and keep evolving as a player. Clinching titles is the main objective, as well as enjoying football.’