Chelsea through and through: Honoring César Azpilicueta as he departs to Madrid

Chelsea (Photo by Carl Recine - Pool/Getty Images)
Chelsea (Photo by Carl Recine - Pool/Getty Images) /

Chelsea Football Club defender Cesar Azpilicueta came to the club for just £7 million, 11 years later, the Spaniard is considered among the club’s legends. 

Without the span of just a few weeks, Chelsea FC has lost two of its greatest captains. One of them departed west London with the maximum amount of silverware as anyone could wish to earn. Many have tried, but Cesar Azpilicueta became the shear definition of a serial winner. He carried the torch through numerous transitions, holding true to that winning culture year after year. Coming in the year after the west Londoner lifted their first Champions League title came with pressure. He took that all on, helping to craft multiple chapters in the success story of this historic club.

His position isn’t the most flattering but he played it with remarkable commitment. Azpi is a model leader who set the standard for everyone at training each day out on the pitch. When the club was struggling to find defenders at the beginning of last season, the Spaniard was there. Wherever the club he resides at needs anything, No. 28 came through. Before he left France, the defender only wanted to leave if his departure was going to help Marseille financially. In the midst of a business-centric football world, the Blues’ No. 28 always had not only his best interest, but the club’s in mind.

Players came and went, managers moved in and out, but the Spaniard was always the true constant. Never did he complain, or cause a fuse. Azpilicueta, like Kante simply showed up whenever his name was called upon on match days. Replacing someone like him is impossible, but the hope is he has passed on his work ethic and leadership qualities to the players of the future. From the moment he walked through the doors at Cobham, legends like John Terry and Ashley Cole knew he had want it took to be a torchbearer.

His smile and compassion for this English club made him one of the most beloved players to play in the storied blue. Only five players have accumulated more appearances for the west London outfit than Azpilicueta. He led the Blues in total Premier League starts for five straight seasons between 2015 and 2020. From 2018 to 2020, no player had more tackles and interceptions than west London’s No. 28. The captain finished his career seventh all-time in assists in club history with 56, behind Juan Mata and Cesc Fàbregas by just two.

He may have only found the back of the net 17 times during his time as a Blue, but a number of them were at times when his side needed it the most. Dave scored the west Londoner’s opening goal against Plymouth Argyle last season in the FA Cup fourth round. He netted two goals against Lille in the UEFA Champions League and scored twice against West Bromwich Albion, Watford, and Arsenal apiece during domestic play.

For someone that is not native to England, Cesar Azpilicueta embraced a slice of Chelsea as if it was his own for 11 years.

His titles include two Premier League trophies, an FA Cup, a League Cup, two Europa Leagues, a FIFA Club World Cup, a UEFA Super Cup, and most importantly a Champions League title. On the individual side, he won the club’s Player of the Season in 2013-2014. The Blues’ No. 28 has been the full-time captain since 2019, but Cesar Azpilicueta was the heartbeat of one of the most prestigious clubs in all of football long before that. Whether it was a last ditch tackle in the penalty area, or getting kicked in the face for attempting to clear the ball away from danger, his effort was incredible no matter the circumstances.

Change is both difficult and exciting. Mauricio Pochettino’s official arrival is reinvigorating considering where Chelsea was last season. With that came the loss of academy graduates, and most significantly one of west London’s greatest leaders. This club is one of the most decorated in England because of selfless players like Azpilicueta.

For him, it was more than just laying his heart out on the pitch defensively, and finding runners in the box. Dave was the example setter. What he did, others followed. That is what his legacy will always be. Whether the signing is for £7, or £107 million like Enzo Fernandez, Azpi showed everyone that if you work hard and have the right attitude, anyone has the capability to be a special player.

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The community here at the PoL and every Chelsea fan around the world would like to thank Cesar Azpilicueta for his time and contributions to the club as a leader for 11 years. We wish him nothing but the best going forward.