Spanish Armada (7) - Cesar Azpilicueta
For the latest in our on-going series, we`ve selected Cesar Azpilicueta.
Cesar Azpilicueta, affectionately nick-named 'Dave` due to the difficulty in pronouncing his name, joined Chelsea Football Club on 24 August 2012, moving to Stamford Bridge from the French club, Marseille, for a fee reported as being in the region of £7 million.
On completing the deal, another Spaniard at the club, Juan Mata remarked about his compatriot,
'He is a strong running right-back who has pace as well, so I think he is already a complete player."
However, Azpilicueta was only sold by Marseille as the French club were having financial troubles with the French club issuing a statement that suggested if Cesar was willing to leave his
'Departure can help Marseille's finances"
Azpilicueta made his Chelsea debut in a League Cup tie on 25 September 2012, against Wolverhampton Wanderers, in a tie Chelsea won 6-0.
His Premier League debut came when he came on as a substitute, for Branislav Ivanovic, in a 4-1 win over Norwich City.
Cesar`s first Premier league start though didn`t come until 3 November 2012 when he started in the 1-1 away draw at Swansea.
During his first season at Chelsea, Azpilicueta made 48 appearances for Chelsea including 8 in the Europa League, which Chelsea went on to win against Benfica, 2-1. Indeed, it was Azpilucueta who handled the ball for Cardoza to make it 1-1 in the final in Amsterdam.
Cesar didn`t score his first goal for Chelsea until 29 October 2013 when he netted against Arsenal, at the Emirates Stadium, in a 2-1 win in the League Cup.
With Jose Mourinho having replaced Rafa Benitez in the managerial hot-seat, Azpilicueta ousted Ashley Cole from the left-back slot with Mourinho praising the Spaniard as thus,
"Azpilicueta is the kind of player I like a lot. I think a team with 11 Azpilicuetas would probably win the competition (Champions League) because football is not just about pure talent"
Praise indeed, with Cesar`s contribution on the pitch seeing him voted as the Player`s Player of the year for the 2013 / 2014 season.
The following season, 2014 / 2015, Ashley Cole left Chelsea and Azpilicueta began the season as Chelsea`s first choice left-back, despite the club having spent £15.8 million on Filipe Luiz. His continued success with the club saw the Spaniard sign a new five-year contract on 2 September 2014.
The 2014 / 2015 season was also to see Azpilicueta win two more trophies with Chelsea with the club beating Tottenham in the League Cup Final, on 1 March 2015, then going on to claim the Premier League title.
The 2015 / 2016 season saw Cesar score his first goal in the Premier League when he netted in a 3-2 away win at West Bromwich Albion, he was also to score another in the reciprocating fixture.
Forwarding to the 2016 / 2017 season, Azpilicueta, with Antonio Conte now in charge, started as the first-choice left-back, but defeats, in consecutive games, against Liverpool (h) and Arsenal (a), saw Conte switch to his now famous back-three.
Cesar, selected as a centre-back, started in Conte`s first-match utilising a back-three, against Hull on I October 2016, a game Chelsea won 2-0.
Before Christmas, on 13 December 2016, Cesar put his name to a new three-and-a-half year contract, extending his stay with the club until 2020. His first appearance, after signing the contract saw the Spaniard make his 200th appearance for the club.
In the 2016 / 2017 season, Chelsea went on to regain the Premier League title with Azpilicueta appearing in every minute of every Premier League game.
Following the departure of John Terry in the summer of 2017, Gary Cahill inherited the captains` armband with Cesar being appointed vice-captain.
This season, on 12 September 2017, Cesar scored his first goal in the Champions` league as Chelsea beat Qarabag FC 6-0, in a group fixture.
Most recently, Cesar popped up to head Chelsea into the lead after they`d trailed Watford 2-1, at Stamford Bridge.
The Chelsea career of Cesar Azpilicueta is set to continue with 'Dave` acknowledged as one of the most dependable defenders in the Premier League.
Mini Fact-File - Cesar Azpilicueta
Full Name - César Azpilicueta Tanco
Date of Birth - 28 August 1989
Place of Birth - Pamplona, Spain
Height - Five feet ten inches
Position - Defender
Youth Career - Osasuna
Playing Career Clubs - Osasauna B, Osasuna, Marseille, Chelsea - present day
International Honours - Spain U16, U17, U19, U20, U21, U23, Spain
If there is anybody of Spanish origin who you would like to see featured in our new series simply send an e-mail to JUVENILED40@HOTMAIL.COM and we`ll do the rest.
Spanish Armada (1) - Asier del Horno
Spanish Armada (2) - Fernando Torres
Spanish Armada (3) - Juan Mata
Spanish Armada (4) - Rafael Benitez
Spanish Armada (5) - Albert Ferrer
Spanish Armada (6) - Quique de Lucas