Arsene Wenger gave him his chance, and young Cesc took it. It all started in 2003...
December 2, 2003: Cesc was 16, and against Rotherham in October became Arsenal's youngest ever player in the League Cup. In the same competition against Wolves, Fabregas became the club's youngest ever goal scorer with a tap-in from a Sylvain Wiltord pass. He played with Patrick Vieira in midfield that night, and little did those on hand know that they were seeing two of the greatest midfielders in club history play together.
August 16, 2004: Now 17, Fabregas was in the first team full-time. After playing in the Community Shield win against Manchester United, he was thrown into the line of fire in Arsenal's first Premier League fixture, which was away to Everton.
He went up against Lee Carsley and Thomas Gravesen, two of the not-so-nice guys to play against in England at the time. Fabregas flourished, proving his quality, helping Arsenal to a 4-1 victory against a team that would finish fourth in the Premier League in the 2004-05 season.
March 29, 2006: Arsenal were in the last eight of the Champions League, taking on former captain Vieira and Juventus. Prior to the match, Fabregas made all the headlines due to his encounter with his former midfield partner, and after the match, he made all of them, too. He scored the first goal of a 2-0 victory over the dynamic Italian champions, a result which got them to the semifinals, then the club's first final in the competition.
September 17, 2006: Arsenal were away to Manchester United, and were looking for something to build off of early in the season. At the time, all the talk was about Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United, but at Old Trafford, it was Fabregas who stole the show.
Playing without Robin Van Persie and Thierry Henry, Fabregas made his mark in the 86th minute when he took the ball off Ronaldo, then went on to feed a perfect through ball to Emmanuel Adebayor, who put it in the back of the net. Andy Gray gave young Fabregas, who at the time was still only 19, his due as the best player on the pitch that day.
September 15, 2007: Arsenal were at White Hart Lane. Down 1-0 to a Gareth Bale free kick, Fabregas assisted Emmanuel Adebayor's equalizer, then scored the goal that is best described by the man commentating on the game that day as "absolute dynamite." The strike from 30 or so yards was the winner on the day, and was the first of Fabregas' unbelievable moments against their most bitter rivals.
March 5, 2008: Heading into the second leg of Arsenal and AC Milan's round of 16 encounter in the Champions League, it appeared the Londoners didn't have much of a chance. No English team, EVER, had beaten the Rossoneri at the San Siro, so why would this Arsenal team be any different?
Well, Cesc Fabregas was a huge reason, if not the reason. Cesc hit the bar in the first half, dominated midfield in the game and finally in the second half drilled a shot from 35 yards out past Zeljko Kalac into the back of the net. Fabregas arrived as one of Europe's greats, and did it in one of Europe's greatest venues.
October 31, 2009: That goal against Tottenham. It was only about 45 seconds after Robin Van Persie's first goal penetrated Spurs' goal line, and it was smooth, majestic and unforgettable. He maneuvered his way passed every defender in his way and delivered a laser into the corner of the net. An unforgettable moment, and the goal Fabregas will probably always be remembered for in the red and white shirt.
March 31, 2010: For the second time, and first since the 2006 Champions League Final, Fabregas was going to be playing his boyhood (and now current) club Barcelona, at the Emirates Stadium in London. Barcelona absolutely dominated the first half, then took a 2-0 lead through two Zlatan Ibrahimovic goals.
Then, after Theo Walcott pulled one back, Fabregas was brought down by Carles Puyol, and stepped up to take the penalty, which he struck into the back of the net. He was already yellow carded and suspended for the next leg, but still battled on and scored a huge goal in the tie, even though he injured himself in the process.
February 16, 2011: Fabregas may not have scored in this game, but it was revenge for him and Arsenal. The Gunners defeated the great Barcelona, and not only did Fabregas not score in the game, but he wasn't even his team's best player on the night.
Jack Wilshere, Samir Nasri, and Robin Van Persie stole the show, as the Catalan captained the North London side to victory against Catalonia's most famous club, and the one whose shirt he grew up dreamed of wearing (which he'll do soon). Fans knew what it meant to him, and how difficult the game must have been for Fabregas, which made it mean all the more memorable, as if the result itself wasn't enough.
Cesc Fabregas may be in Arsenal's best ever XI, and will always be remembered as one of the club's most talented and creative players. His long passes and ability to read the play, and see openings seconds before they were seen by anyone else, were second to none.
Personally, I will never hold a grudge against Fabregas for leaving. It is very tempting for him, a temptation he clearly couldn't pass up. He is joining the best team in the world, and the best since the AC Milan sides of the late '80s with Van Basten, Gullit and Rijkaard. Also, he is joining some of his best friends, including those he grew up with. The move makes a lot of sense.
I sincerely hope he plays every week. He is a top-15 player in the world, possibly top-10 when on form. He should not be starting only 20 games in a league season. He should start over 30 every year without doubt. He's the type of player you change formations and teams for so he can play. I hope he doesn't regret this, because he's a fantastic player who should be the hub of whatever team he plays for.
I respect the way he went about the saga. It must have been very difficult for him. He sincerely wanted the return home to Catalonia, but didn't want to do it at the expense of the club and manager which made him the player and man he is today. He also didn't want to let the club down. He could have forced a move last season, but made sure that the terms of the transfer were fair enough for both sides, especially the London club.
Cesc Fabregas will be a name Arsenal fans will remember fondly, as a player who is one of the best in the world, and provided plenty of wonderful moments.
In five years, he may be one of the five best players in the world and he might be the best player, outside of Messi, at Barca. His current ability is amazing and spectacular, but it must be remembered that he still has potential to become an even better and more memorable talent.
I may not be rooting for Barcelona in the future, but I certainly will still be rooting for the man who came to Arsenal as a raw, talented boy, and left one of the best footballers in the world.
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