Hi there, this is my first post in this blog. Just wanted to translate what Cesc really said to Don Balon. Enjoy!
Cesc Fabregas, Arsenal captain, 23 years old, reflects on his football career.
Q: What did you think of Arsenal when you were 16 years old? I knew they had a great manager, they tried to give opportunities to the youngsters, and that they had good players such as Henry, Bergkamp, Vieira, Pires. I wasn't a fan of the English league, I used to watch highlights on Sundays, but that's all. Maybe that made for me more difficult to come here, I didn't even know where I was going to...
Q: How has that thought changed 8 years later? In everything. I have also changed too, physically and as a person I have matured a lot. If I try to analyse it, I have learned a lot in this time, I have also made mistakes and now I'm absolutely more complete than I was 8 years ago.
Q: Do you think you are prodigy teenager? No. Well, maybe at the beginning yes. Now absolutely not. I have been struck by injuries for a couple of years that have stopped me improving in the way I want to. But being a 17 year old and playing 51 matches, then when I was 18 we won the FA cup, I played in the Champions League Final, and the World Cup when I was 19. I remember perfectly of my beginning as a footballer more than I remember the people. In those first three years everything went so fast. It was the time that I've improved the most, the most drastic change. Since I was 21, after Euro 2008, I've had more injuries, everything has been more difficult and it has been difficult for me to improve.
Q: Your first season with the first team, you were 17 years old, it wasn't a team that anybody could play in.. Tell us about it. It was such a great team. 'The Invincibles' who just won the league without losing a game. I started there and I was there for between 15 and 18 games that we didn't lose a game (in the next season). That year I played 51 matches and in a lot of them I was a starter. To be honest I feel that I took part in that record, in total we didn't lose for 49 league matches.
Q: Is that the best team you have played in? Yes, no doubt. Wow, you don't even have to think it. It was a year in which I improved a lot. Even sometimes I wonder if I was better when I was 17 years old than now! When you realize that the answer is no, the thing is that I used to play with a winning team and it was awesome. You felt that if you had a bad game nothing wrong would happen because your teammates would make up for it. Those players made you better. I have always said this: No team is compared to The Invincibles.
Q: Things have changed a lot now. Do you feel that you have the pressure to be always at your best? Yeah, for sure. I've realized that, when I fail a pass everybody watches me. I don't like to say it but it's the truth. If I play bad l notice the responsibility and the pressure of the fans. It's something that had never happened to me before, but since I'm the captain that's the reality. Van Persie and me are the only ones who have stayed from that generation, and because of that we have a lot of responsibility.
Q: But you won't deny that you like it... I like it! The thing is that sometimes it's a lot of work. Why? Because football is a team game. Nobody wins games alone. You can win two or three games in the season but you can't win a title alone. Sometimes everything that surrounds me overemphasizes itself but that's the responsibility of leading such a young team. The most important thing for me is not to pick up injuries because if I pick an injury it gets more complicated. And the continuity I've had got me where I am now.
Q: This Arsenal team is a young team. Don't you think it's a loop? See, I think that the key is to have a good combination. That's why I feel so lucky to have played with the team I began with (The Invincibles). Because that was me alone, also Van Persie and we both were growing up watching our idols play alongside us. We learnt from the best. Now it's so different because we all are youngsters and you don't have people to say: "Wooow" about.
Q: Well, now youngsters in the team, watch you and want to learn from you...- I don't know that because I'm only 23 years old, and that's important to remember. I started so early that now it seems like I'm 27 or 28 years old. Then you realize and know that I have still a long road to go. That's why I had luck. Youngsters learnt from the best players. Now it's more complicated. If you put Wilshere in the team I used to play before.. it's different. Before, you had good, winning, strong players and you learnt faster playing with them.
Q: Do you feel bothered to be associated with Wenger's name to yours, someone who guides you, that decides for you? Man, he is the boss, I have a contract and he has all the rights in the world to decide. But the truth is no, it can be seen or interpreted that way from outside but things are not like that. I always speak to him frankly and sincerely and he accepts what I tell him.
Q: It seems that we have to find a reason why you've stayed at Arsenal... I don't know but it seems that if I don't move another step forward now I won't do it ever. I'm 23 years old and IF I leave this summer I'd be 24; if I leave the next one I'd be 25; the next one 26; and the next one 27! Things must be taken with patience and wait for the ideal moment. The day I leave Arsenal I will do it with certainty, not only because I can. Also, who ensures that you'll play in the next team? Or maybe you won't improve in the next team. Here (at Arsenal) I have the big luck that in a personal level, even if we don't win a lot, I'm feeling so strong. I speak to Puyol and he tells me that until he reached 26 he didn't win anything. Puyol, who has won everything in the football world!! Patience and hard work are the most important things in life.
Q: How do you explain that a manager like Wenger who has not won anything for 6 years, continues being not much questioned? Man, now it's easier to understand why he has so many years here. But it's clear that if you come from Spain and tell Emery, Guardiola and Mourinho that they'd be three years without winning a trophy, they won't continue for sure. But here it's different, the manager is an intelligent person and the team values other things: that the team is always in the Champions League, that it fights till the end, that it creates new stars, and economic stability. I guess that's important for the board. I imagine that there will come the time in which you will have to make the next step.. To win or not to win.
Q: That's the point I wanted to reach, Arsenal's tag is 'they don't win nothing but what great football they play'! It's true. When I started we won the FA Cup and then we reached the UEFA Champions League final, which, well, we didn't win but then you say 'damn', you just got beaten by Barca and you had only ten men and goal came in the last minute. You don't say it's a victory but you think: It's the first time this club have reached the UCL final, that millions of players have played in this club and we were the firsts ones to reach it. But since 2007 I started to say the same thig; "We don't win but we play so well". And then you realize that it's nonsense. You enjoy during a part of the tournament, like this year, for example, when we were in 4 different competitions. And you say: "Yes I have it all here!" But then you miss that final point/decision and it's here when you have to take a decision: To go for it or to not go for it.