So Long Cesc, Once a Gunner, Always a Gunner

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Cesc Fabregas ( Jsmith11)

ast week in a FA Cup tie against Nottingham Forrest, Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas broke down as he was subbed when he realized that his professional career was coming to an end. Yesterday it was revealed that he will join his old teammate Thierry Henry at Monaco.

It marks the end of his stellar career in England, although it seems he just came on the scene. But the 31-year old Fabregas started his career at 17. If he has slowed down in recent years, it’s because he’s been playing top-level soccer for 16 years. Much like former wunderkind Michael Owen, Fabregas started to burn out because he began his career so early.

Fabregas was acquired from Barcelona’s fabled La Masia academy, back in the days when we could still count on Arsene Wenger to make smart transfer choices. He arrived at Highbury as a boy, and Wenger turned him into a man, who was also one of the best midfielders in the world.

But when his boyhood club came back, Fabregas opted to return home. However, it wasn’t the dream homecoming. After three years at the Nou Camp, he returned to England. I’m not sure why he left, maybe he was played out of position. It could have been the pressure of playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world. Former Barca goalkeeper Vincent Valdez said the pressure to remain on top at Barcelona made one game seem like a season.

Although several people at the club, including Lionel Messi, begged him to stay, he still opted to leave. Fabregas said, “I want to be happy both professionally and personally,” according to Sky Sports.

Several Arsenal fans vilified Fabregas when he opted to join Chelsea, but this decision was another Wenger error. Arsenal had first rights if Fabregas left Barca, but Wenger turned down a return claiming his midfield was overloaded.

But now his career is winding down, I would hope that Gunners fan will leave the animosity aside. We discovered Cesc and turned him into a superstar. We should celebrate his successful career. So long, Cesc, once a Gunner, always a Gunner.

“Arsenal was the first option, for contractual reasons. There was a clause that gave them the right to decide. We spoke to Wenger and he said that the space was very well filled by Mesut Özil and it was hard to find a place for both of us in the team,” said Fabregas in a Guardian interview.

Arsenal’s loss turned out to be Chelsea’s gain. At Chelsea, Fabregas pulled the strings in a humming midfield and also won two league titles, a FA Cup and a League cup. He also won two Euro Championships and a World Cup with Spain. It turns out Fabregas had the last laugh, much like Ashely Cole. Fabregas and Cole are part of a long list of Arsenal players whose careers prospered after they left the Emirates.

But now his career is winding down, I would hope that Gunners fan will leave the animosity aside. We discovered Cesc and turned him into a superstar. We should celebrate his successful career. So long, Cesc, once a Gunner, always a Gunner.

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Manny Otiko writes about race, politics and sports. He has been published in Salon and LA Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @mannyotiko.

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