Tuesday, May 4, 2010

4 May 1987 - Let's Talk About Cesc, Baby

On 4 May 1987, future Arsenal captain and Spanish international Francesc "Cesc" Fàbregas i Soler was born in the city of Vilassar de Mar, Catalonia, Spain. Just over nineteen years later, he would become the youngest person to play for Spain in a World Cup.

He started his career in the youth squad of Catalonian side Mataró, but moved to Barcelona's youth academy when he was 10 years old. Despite impressive performances for the Barça reserves, he had failed to crack the first team by 2003 and moved to London to play for Arsenal. He did not play in any League matches for the Gunners in the 2003-04 season, but became their youngest first team player in history when he played in a League Cup match against Rotherham United on 23 October 2003. Just over a month later, he became the club's youngest-ever goalscorer when he netted in their 5-1 League Cup win over Wolves.

By the 2005-06 season, Fàbregas had solidified a starting position in the Arsenal midfield and was a key member of their run to that season's Champions League Final, where they lost 2-1 to his old club, Barcelona. His performance that season impressed Spanish manager Luis Aragonés, who called Fàbregas up for a friendly against the Ivory Coast on 1 March 2006, making him the youngest player to be capped by Spain for over 70 years.

He remained with the national side for the 2006 World Cup, making his first tournament appearance as a second-half substitute against the Ukraine on 14 June 2006. At 19 years, 41 days old, he remains the youngest player to appear for Spain in a World Cup. He later helped guide Spain to the Euro 2008 title, scoring the winning penalty in their quarterfinal shootout against Italy.

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