Type ‘Cesc’ into your phone and autocorrect will change it to ‘Crack’.
It’s fitting really, given craque is the term used in Spanish speaking countries to describe an outstanding footballer.
Since the turn of the millennium there have been few more dominating presences amidst the chaos of the Premier League midfield than Cesc Fabregas.
The 16-year-old with a mullet took his first steps in English football on 28 October 2003, in doing so becoming the youngest player to represent Arsenal.
The mullet was swiftly trimmed, which wouldn’t be the only reinvention of Fabregas’ career.
First came Fabregas the La Masia hopeful, trying to make his way at Barcelona alongside Gerard Pique and Lionel Messi.
Next came Fabregas the wünderkid, who seamlessly filled the void left by Patrick Vieira’s departure to Juventus.
Fabregas the box-to-box midfielder, scorer of 15 Premier League goals in 27 outings during the 2009/10 season, followed.
Then came Fabregas the false 9, the deceiving focal point upon which Spain’s Euro 2012 triumph was forged. Football was forever changed by the 4-6-0 formation in which brain passed its way through brawn.
A return to England gave birth to Fabregas the deep-lying schemer. The yard lost in his legs was more than balanced out by the second, or rather minute, he’d gained in his head.
His first campaign with Chelsea, in which he contributed 18 assists, remains one of the finest displays across a season by a Premier League midfielder.
Now there’s Fabregas the fireman, parachuted into the French Riviera by his former team-mate Thierry Henry to save Monaco from relegation.
Fabregas is to the midfield what Floyd Mayweather was to boxing.
He won’t hurt you in the blood and thunder fashion that Roy Keane, Steven Gerrard and Vieira used to, with shuddering tackles and relentless energy.
Instead he’ll charm you into submission with a mix of subtle passes and quarterback Hail Marys that wouldn’t look amiss from the arm of Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.
His football IQ, like Mayweather’s boxing mind, is on another planet compared to his peers.
A fine example of that is when he beat Willian and Pedro, players whose whole game is built around agility, in a speed test.
Fabregas checks out of the Premier League after 350 games, 50 goals, 111 assists, 19,187 passes, 1,364 long balls, 376 through balls and one pizza to the face of Sir Alex Ferguson.
If there was one moment to define him it would be the welcome he gave Premier League newbies Burnely in the first game of what would turn out to be Chelsea’s 2015 title march.
With one touch Fabregas eliminated nine Burnley players from the game.
The thought process required to spot the pass would have rendered it impossible for 99.99% of professional footballers. The technique to carry it out would have seen off most of the rest.
But for Fabregas it was effortless. The reinventions may have come and gone, but the class remained the same throughout.
Thanks for the memories, Cesc.
READ MORE FROM THE WORLD OF DREAM TEAM:
- How does a country with a smaller population than Oman keep producing brilliant strikers?
- A tireless playmaker? Why Bernardo Silva is the most 2019 player in the world
- How a devastating injury saved this club from extinction and propelled them to the promised land