5 Things Cesc Fabregas brought to English football
Goals, assists, flair – and pizza…
Fabregas was among the first non-native talents to emerge at a Premier League club as a teenager. He swapped Barcelona’s youth system for Arsenal’s in September 2003. A month later, he became the Gunners’ youngest-ever player, aged 16 years and 177 days, and in December 2003 he became their youngest scorer. That season the Gunners won the Premier League title, but Fabregas did not feature in the league, so did not receive a winners’ medal.
Giving Ferguson a slice
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The ‘Battle of the Buffet’, which followed the end of Arsenal’s 49-game unbeaten league run, attracted notoriety for a pizza slice hitting Sir Alex Ferguson in the aftermath of Manchester United’s 2-0 win at Old Trafford. It took 13 years before Fabregas, on a television game show, confirmed he was the perpetrator. Martin Keown had previously pointed the finger at his team-mate, saying: “It was a Spanish fella with great technique. Even when it came to the pizza he had great technique. He threw it like a Frisbee.”
The future is bright, the future is Fabregas
Fabregas’ emergence suggested the future of Arsenal was in good hands, even after Patrick Vieira and others departed, but 2003-04 was Arsenal’s most recent title success. Fabregas won one trophy at Arsenal, the 2004-05 FA Cup. The Gunners perennially finished in the top four and finished Champions League runners-up in 2005-06. But the financial constraints of moving from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium contributed to a weakening of the squad, even with Fabregas as talisman.
Patience in pursuit of silverware
Fabregas captained Arsenal from 2008 to 2011, but with the desired trophy success absent – apart from the 2008 European Championships and 2010 World Cup with Spain – he moved back to Barcelona. Fabregas returned to England after three seasons with Barca, but Arsene Wenger opted not to take up a reported option and Fabregas joined Chelsea. He won the Premier League title at the first attempt, taking a winners’ medal 11 years after Arsenal’s last championship victory.
A ‘magic hat’
Fabregas’ creativity spurned a song at Chelsea: ‘Fabregas is magic, he wears a magic hat…’ Blue fans often serenaded the Spain playmaker’s genius as he picked apart defences in the 2014-15 title-winning season. They have done so frequently since. Fabregas has 111 Premier League assists, second only to Ryan Giggs, but in little more than half the number of games (350 to 632).