Writer: Tim Stillman
Date:Monday November 24 2008
In honour of Cesc Fabregas' appointment as Arsenal's new skipper, I thought I'd elucidate his finer points, obviously the fact that he is a bona fide world class footballer apart. England is perhaps the only country in Europe that regardsthe appointment of a captain with any kind of interest, but nevertheless, wth relish and interest here are the best things about our diminutive Catalunyan catalyst.
He Plays With His Heart- Nobody applies themself more to a game than Cesc, to dovetail with his awe inspiring talent, he has the will of the warrior and refuses to be beaten, whether his side are losing in the dying minutes or in the 50-50 challenge. When we are defeated, nobody looks more downcast, the fact that he is a spikey, almost petulant, loser is perversely endearing.
He Doesn't Take Shit From Anyone- Cesc is no respecter of reputation. From the moment he consummately outplayed his predecessor Patrick Vieira in March 2006, Fabregas has always looked to impose himself. When 'respected' pros like Sheringham and Mark Hughes stood in his way, he shouted them down whilst still a teenager. Tomas Repka told all and sundry he was going to kick Arsenal out of the game prior to the Sparta Praha game last season, after two minutes Repka goes eyeball to eyeball with Hleb. What does Cesc do? Promptly puts a crunching (but fair) challenge on Repka, leaving him limping out of the game sobbing like a little boy who's just been denied his dinner. Zidane in the Bernebeu? Step aside Gramps. Gattuso and Pirlo in the San Siro? Psssh, easy. Roy Keane and Paul Scholes in Cardiff when he was 17? Move it or lose it old timers.
Goal Celebrations- When he scores, his face lights up and he generally celebrates like a six year old boy in the playground. Look at any number of picture stills, the last minute winner in the Reebok last season when he runs to Eboue almost in tears. The last minute equaliser at Sunderland when his face is screwed up in delight. The goal against Bolton at the Grove in April 2007, having not scored for eight months he proceeded to shadow box thin air and beat his chest like a savage. And of course, that celebration in the San Siro.
His Handling of the Media- Every time there is a story alleging he wants to leave, he releases a statement within twelve hours denying it and reaffirming his commitment to the club. He has been upfront about his desire to return home one day and the supporters appreciate that honesty. In the meantime, he has been a consummate professional and ambassador for the club.
He 'Gets' Arsenal- There are a number of players who don't at the moment, Cesc is attuned to the unique culture of the club and behaves with the decorum we have become accustomed to over the years.
He Hates Ashley Cole- The fact that he has taken Cole's treachery to heart so much proves the above point.
He's Not Afraid To Speak Out- Much like Gallas, Fabregas identifies the team's problems and speaks out about them. For instance, in the summer of 2007 he said that Arsenal's dressing room was too nice (how things change!), but rather than bitching about it persistently, he helped address the issue.
Everyone Respects Him- His reputation resonates around Europe. When he leads this Arsenal team out, it will strike fear into the heart of any opponent. Opposing fans are effusive in their praise for him. It's generally accepted he'd walk into any team in Europe, let's be grateful he graces ours.
He Loves Pressure- He walked into a team who had just gone an entire league campaign undefeated, amongst footballing giants such as Bergkamp, Vieira, Pires, Campbell and Henry and did not look a bit out of place aged 17. He marked his devut by stopping just short of literally urinating on Keane and Scholes. He waltzed into the Bernabeu and didn't twitch a nerve at the prospect of completely outplaying Zidane and Guti aged 18. He wandered into the San Siro and well and truly knocked Gattuso and Pirlo off their perch in their own back yard. The greater the pressure, the bigger his response.
Fabregas is the footballer that boys want to be and girls want to...you get my meaning here. So congratulations Cesc and the best of luck as skipper of the Arsenal. You join some illustrious names, but yours by no means looks out of place amongst our literatti of greats.LD.
Date:Monday November 24 2008
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