Enzo Fernandez is Chelsea’s newest recruit and it is high time we found out more about the path that has taken the midfielder from junior football in his native Argentina to the Premier League, via the biggest stage of all late last year.
Despite only turning 22 last month, Enzo has already played in three countries across two continents, won domestic honours and of course been part of a World Cup triumph. He has given an interview covering his football story so far and we look at the early chapters today with plenty more to follow tomorrow…
Having been born in Villa Bonich, San Martin – part of the Buenos Aires metropolis, Enzo cut his very early football teeth at close-by junior team Club La Recova where he played with his brothers.
‘I spent my whole youth playing football with my childhood friends there,’ he recalled.
‘That’s pretty much how my life was when I took my first steps in the world of football. I gave my first kicks when I was three. When I was six, I started to play for River. I was six when I took part in my first training session!’
Having become involved at that early age with the world-famous River Plate club, Enzo continued to to play there until he turned 18.
‘After that, I was transferred on loan to Defensa y Justicia FC, and then I returned to River, and won the championship there,’ he said, describing River as like his family.
‘I spent most of my life in River, and I feel thankful for the love and trust they put in me. Putting that aside, I’ve been a huge fan of the club ever since I was a little boy. Everything went smoothly, so I feel very happy for having helped them. They’ve helped me evolve as a player too.
‘We had to play Copa Libertadores too, but the league title was a wonderful experience for me. I always dreamt of achieving such a thing. I’d always attended the stadium, watched the games from the stands. Having fulfilled the dream of becoming a champion with them, that is priceless.
‘My family are River Plate fans although two of my brothers are Boca Juniors fans, but anyway, they’ve always supported me and have been there by my side. They highly enjoyed my success themselves.
‘My dad is a huge River fan. That’s why he called me Enzo, after Enzo Francescoli [a hugely successful attacking midfielder player with the club]. So my family was so proud I had finally fulfilled one of my biggest dreams.
Enzo Francescoli ‘River have taught me values. I was given everything a player might need, even psychological assistance. They’ve always been there, I was never left behind.’
Enzo also values the season he spent on loan at Defensa y Justicia prior to his real breakthrough at River Plate. At the smaller club in Buenos Aires, he came under the coaching wing of former Chelsea striker Hernan Crespo who won the Premier League during his time at Stamford Bridge.
‘It was right after the pandemic came to an end,’ Enzo remembered.
‘That was a unique experience. He [Crespo] is a very special person. He’s always tried to support me, and I learnt a lot from him and his technical staff. He was my coach for four to five months until Sebastian Beccacece arrived, with whom we became champions of La Recopa [a Super Cup-style tournament].
‘He was a very important person, a great coach, although a bit crazy, as I used to tell him. But I learnt a lot from both of them, and I feel grateful for everything they’ve given me when I was in Defensa y Justicia.’
In part two tomorrow, Enzo Fernandez talks about moving to Benfica and then to Chelsea, his Qatar 2022 triumph and playing with Lionel Messi.