Francesc "Cesc" Fàbregas i Soler (Catalan pronunciation: [ˈsɛsk ˈfaβɾəɣəs]; born 4 May 1987) is a Spanish footballer who plays as a central midfielder. He captains the Premier League side Arsenal and also plays for the Spanish national team.
Fàbregas started his career as a trainee with Barcelona but was signed by Arsenal in September 2003 at the age of 16. Following injuries to key midfielders in the 2004–05 season, he established himself as Arsenal's starting central midfielder and playmaker. He went on to break several of the club's records, earning a reputation as one of the best young players for his position.
In international football, the Spaniard's national career began when he represented the Under-17 side at the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Championship in Finland. As a result of his club performances, he was called up to the senior squad in 2006. He has played in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Euro 2008 and 2010 FIFA World Cup, helping Spain to become eventual winners in the two most recent tournaments.
* 1 Club career
o 1.1 Early years
o 1.2 Arsenal
+ 1.2.1 Adapting to England
+ 1.2.2 Making the starting eleven
+ 1.2.3 Captaincy
* 2 International career
o 2.1 Youth team
o 2.2 Senior team
+ 2.2.1 2006 World Cup
+ 2.2.2 Euro 2008
+ 2.2.3 Confederations Cup 2009
+ 2.2.4 World Cup 2010
o 2.3 International goals
* 3 Style of play
* 4 Statistics
* 5 Honours
o 5.1 Arsenal
o 5.2 International
o 5.3 Individual
* 6 Other projects
* 7 References
* 8 External links
Fàbregas was born in Vilassar de Mar, Barcelona, Catalonia Francesc Fàbregas, Sr., who runs a property company, and Núria Soler, the owner of a pastry company. Fàbregas has supported Barcelona since childhood and went to his first match when he was nine months old with his grandfather. He began his club football career with Mataró, before being signed for Barcelona's La Masia youth academy aged 10. His first coach, Señor Blai, reportedly did not select Fabregas for matches against Barcelona in an attempt to hide him from their scouts. This tactic, however, was unable to withstand Barcelona for long, and Mataró gave in and allowed Fàbregas to train with Barcelona one day per week. Eventually Fàbregas joined Barcelona's academy full time. His initial training was as a defensive midfielder, yet he was also a prolific scorer, sometimes scoring more than 30 goals in a season for the club's youth teams. Despite this, he did not manage to play a first team game at the Camp Nou. During his time at Barcelona's youth academy, Fàbregas idolised Barcelona's then-captain and number four Josep Guardiola, who would later give Fàbregas his shirt as consolation when Fàbregas' parents divorced.
Adapting to England
Fàbregas (left) in a game against Sheffield United in 2006
Sensing that he would have limited opportunities at Barcelona, he joined Arsenal, signing for the London club in September 2003. Initially, he found life difficult in England's capital but soon struck a friendship with Spanish-speaking team-mate Philippe Senderos, who helped him settle down. As a 16-year-old, Fàbregas did not contemplate breaking into the first team immediately but looked up to senior players like Patrick Vieira and Gilberto Silva, while concentrating on training and learning the English language. He nevertheless made his debut for Arsenal not long after, on 23 October 2003, in a League Cup tie at home to Rotherham United. In doing so he became Arsenal's youngest ever first team player, aged 16 years and 177 days. He then became the youngest goalscorer in Arsenal's history in a later round of the League Cup, scoring in a 5–1 victory against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Although Arsenal went on to win the league unbeaten in the 2003–04 season, Fàbregas was not awarded a winner's medal because he did not play a single league game.
It was not until the start of the 2004–05 season that the Spaniard started making first team appearances in matches outside the League Cup. His first match of the season was against Manchester United in the Community Shield. Following an injury to Vieira, Fàbregas stepped in and made four consecutive Premier League starts. He was praised for his performances in those games, even claiming a goal against Blackburn Rovers in a 3–0 victory, and becoming Arsenal's youngest ever goalscorer in a league game. With further injuries to Edu and Gilberto Silva, he received more playing time in all competitions.[ He signed his first professional contract with Arsenal in September 2004 In the 2004–05 UEFA Champions League, he became the second-youngest goalscorer in the competition's history after scoring the third goal against Rosenborg in a 5–1 win. He concluded his season by winning his first honours with Arsenal when he was in the starting eleven that defeated Manchester United on penalties in the 2005 FA Cup Final.
Making the starting eleven
After the departure of Vieira to Juventus, Fàbregas was given the Frenchman's number 4 shirt and featured regularly in the Arsenal central midfield alongside Gilberto Silva. He made 49 appearances in all competitions during the 2005–06 season. Despite his young age, his performances came under greater scrutiny due to his increased involvement in the first team. Further, as Fàbregas possessed a smaller frame and played with less aggression than Vieira, there were initially doubts over his ability to fill in the void left by the Frenchman. Nevertheless, Fàbregas asserted his own style of play and impressed pundits in the Champions League against Real Madrid and Juventus. In the latter, he scored Arsenal's first goal and set up Thierry Henry for the second, at the same time proving that he could compete against tough, hard-tackling midfielders like Vieira. He then played in the final against his former club Barcelona, but Arsenal were defeated 2–1, completing a trophyless 2005–06 campaign for Arsenal.
Fàbregas celebrates a goal with his Arsenal team-mates
Fàbregas' increase in exposure drew transfer speculation during the summer; Real Madrid expressed a desire to sign the Spaniard despite his long-term contract with Arsena but Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger stated that Arsenal would not listen to any offers. In September 2006, with six years left on his deal, Arsenal offered a new five-year deal (with an option to extend by a further three years) to the midfielder, which he signed on 19 October 2006. While the contract was unusually long, Fàbregas cited Arsenal's playing style and Wenger as reasons for his long-term commitment to the club.