Don Balón: Cesc Fábregas (Part 1)

Cesc Fábregas recently sat down for an exclusive interview with Don Balón where he talked candidly about Arsenal, the Spanish national team, and Barça. Here’s the (first half) of the translated interview …

Cesc Fábregas ha dado una entrevista exclusiva a Don Balón, donde habló con franqueza sobre el Arsenal, la selección española, y el Barça.  Sigan leyendo para ver todas las fotos y leer la (primera parte) de la entrevista completa (traducida al inglés)…

The Arsenal training center is located in the outskirts of London, which takes about an hour and 15 minutes by train from Gatwick Airport and another 20 minutes from the St. Albans (Hertfordshire) station in one of those famous British taxicabs.  The day was perfect.  The hot, blazing sun overcame the grayish color that normally stains the British sky.  We are led to a small room where we are to meet a little after 2 PM.  He arrives on time, coming straight to our meeting after having eaten – as he casually mentions to us –  something light after a hard training session.   During our 48 minute conversation, the Arsenal captain is alert and awake, not at all affected by having just eaten.  He feels comfortable and responds to our questions with a great deal of honesty.  He sometimes slips into Catalán, which is normal, as that is his native tongue.  His shirt makes us feel a bit uneasy:  “Sinner.”  But his confessions are clean and pure.

Don Balón:  How do you remember the day you came to London to stay?

Cesc Fábregas:  Well, the first day I came to London was not to stay – I just came to talk.  But that’s the day I knew I wanted to move to London, the day I knew that the team was willing to gamble on me and to rely on me.  It was too big and too beautiful of an opportunity for me to walk away.

DB:  How was the weather that day?

CF:  It was a hot and sunny day in June.  The weather was amazing – not the norm from what everyone told me!

DB:  Where you aware that you were leaving behind the best year of your career before your move to Arsenal, as I have heard you mention in more than one occasion?

CF:  Yes, of course.  It was a very difficult decision  It was a moment that has shaped my life.  I took a very important step forward at a very young age.  It was difficult, but when I got here and I saw that they had taken a gamble on me, it became easier.

DB:  Why was that the best year of your life?

CF:  Just imagine – I was 16 years old, living in La Masia with my teammates.  We would go to school together and we had a great time.  With regards to football, we did the spectacular tri

plete:  Liga, Copa del Rey and Copa Catalunya.  It was incredible.

DB:  How did you tell your teammates about your decision to leave?

CF:  I couldn’t tell anyone.  Arsenal was very clear when they told me that the news could not be leaked to the press.  It was very difficult for me to keep this secret, because I wanted to keep playing with them and I knew that I would probably never return.  My last game was the Copa del Rey final and that’s when I went public with the news about my intention to leave.  It was a very beautiful farewell.

DB:  What image did you have of Arsenal at 16?

CF:  I knew they had a great coach, that they gambled on young talent, and that the team included players like Henry, Bergkamp, Viera, Pires.  I wasn’t really a fan of the English League, I kept up on them mostly in the Sunday paper.  Maybe that’s why it was more difficult to come here, because I didn’t really know where I was going…

DB:  How has your image changed eight years later?

CF:  Oh, in everything.  I’ve changed a lot too, not just physically, but I’ve matured as a person.  I have learned a lot during my time here, but I’ve also made mistakes.  I am definitely more complete, more whole.

DB:  Do you feel like a child prodigy?

CF:  No.  Well, at the beginning I did.  Not anymore.  I’ve had a coupe of years where I’ve had injuries that have prevented me from evolving the way I wanted to.  But I also played 51 games at 17, won the Cup at 18, played the Champions final and the World Cup at 19.  I remember my early days a lot, but people tend to forget.  Everything was very fast during those three years.  That was the time that I evolved the most, where I changed the most.  After I turned 21, after the Eurocup, I had more injuries and it has been harder for me to progress.

DB:  Your first season was not just with any team…

CF:  It was an equipazo.  “The Invincibles,” that had just won the Premier without losing a single game.  That year, I played 51 games and many of those as a starter.  To be honest, I feel as though I took part in reaching that record, a total of 49 games in the league without a loss.

DB:  Those were the days when there was a player that eclipsed it all…

CF:  Yes, Thiery Henry.

DB:  Was it difficult to win the confidence of the star of the team?

CF:  No, it was neither easy nor difficult.  During training, I gave it my all.  That’s how you earn the respect of the locker room and that’s how it worked for me.

DB:  Is this the best team you have played in?

CF:  Without a doubt.  Vaya,I don’t even have to think about it.  It was a year where I evolved a lot.  Sometimes, I ask myself if it was better when I was 17 than it is now. But I realize that’s not true, that it’s because I used to play for a winning team and it was amazing.  Those footballers made me a better player.  I have always said that there is no team like that one.

DB:  A lot of things have changed.  Do you feel pressure to always be at your best?

CF:  Yes, hombre, of course.  That’s clear.  I don’t like saying it, but if I play badly, I feel the responsibility and the pressure from the fans.  This is something I had never felt before, but it’s something that has become a reality since I became captain.  It was just Van Persie and I from that generation and for that reason, we carry a lot of the responsibility.  But that’s how it is.

DB:  But you won’t deny that it is something that you like…

CF:  Of course I like it!  But sometimes, it can be too much.  Why?  Because football is a team sport.  Nobody wins games by themselves.  Sometimes it can be overwhelming, but that’s the responsibility of leading a young squad.  The most important thing is that my injuries remain at bay, because if not, it can become complicated.  The fact that I have played continuously has shaped me as a player.

DB:  You talk about injuries a lot.  Do they worry you a lot?

CF:  It’s because I never had any!  I have played 300 games with Arsenal.  Everything happened in the last year and half.  I don’t want to complain, but the last time I had a vacation without any football was when I was 16 or 17 years old, when I moved to the first team in Arsenal.  I had six weeks and then I started full force.  After that, there have always been tournaments such as the Eurocup, the Confederations Cup, and the World Cup.  This might not be the reason for my injuries, but the experts have told me that there comes a time in your career where you need to rest.

DB:  Arsenal is a very young team, but it seems that it’s always been a young team.

CF:  Look, I think that the key is having a good combination of players.   I’m very fortunate to have had the opportunity to play in the equipazo with which I started.  Van Persie and I grew up with our idols.  We learned from the best.  Now it’s different because we are all so young and you don’t have one person that you can say “Wow!”

DB:  Well, now the younger players of the team look up to you…

CF:  I don’t know, I’m only 23 years old and I think it’s important to remember that.  I started so young that it seems like I should be 27 or 28.  But I still have a long road ahead.  That’s why I have been so lucky.  The young ones learned from the older ones.  Now it’s more complicated.  In the past, there were strong players who won and who you could learn a lot from by just playing with them.

To be continued…

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