It just had to be Francesc Fabregas didn’t it.
So come on, follow me on this journey;
It was the semi final of Euro 2012. The situation was clear. Score the penalty and Spain are into the final of Euro 2012. It was a moment that required a big game player; A player who would not be overawed by the moment but one who could hold his nerve and who if not Cesc Fabregas?
It was a moment reminiscent of four years prior – A quarter final win over Italy in Spain’s most important game in their history. A game that had threatened to remind the world why Spain were perennial underachievers. The swagger of the group stages had been replaced by nervousness. It had been deadlocked for 120 minutes. It needed penalties to decide it. But after Iker Casillas had saved from Daniele De Rossi and Antonio Di Natale, the situation was clear. Score the penalty and Spain are into the semi-final of Euro 2008. It was a moment that required a big game player. Luis Aragones decided that 21 year old Fabregas was that player. How right he was.
In the ensuing semi-final against Russia, Fabregas was required again. David Villa had succumbed to injury after only 35 minutes. Aragones again decided that Fabregas was the man to come on. And for the second time he was right. Two assists in the 3-0 win, Fabregas for sure had lay claim to a starting berth in the finals against Germany as Fernando Torres went on to score the most important goal in Spain’s history. The goal that introduced a New Spain, the Spain only Zidane once dreamed of – ‘’‘when Spain start winning they won’t stop’’
But Fabregas would not start in a major tournament again. He would be on the bench for Spain’s games in their run up to the 2010 World Cup final. But he would come off the bench to effective impact; against Portugal, Paraguay and Germany. In those games, Spain had not scored before his introduction however he would come on to change the game, inject pace and even if he never scored; NOTE – He would be on the pitch when they finally did.
2010 WC final – Netherlands the giant killers; he would again come off the bench. Actually before his introduction, Spain seems to be headed for penalties until Iniesta scored. But most importantly though, it would be him who would provide the assist that brought the WC to Madrid,,,ooops, with all due respect, Spain.
And so step up the Euro 2012 semi-final against Portugal, as always he was at the party. Already he’d proved his importance. He’d scored the goal that had avoided defeat against Italy. He’d given the pass that had eventually led to Iniesta setting up Jesus Navas’s goal against Croatia; That goal that ensured Spain’s qualification to the quarters. He’d started two games. He’d been on the bench for the other two. He had to come off the bench this time. Again, just like four years ago, it had been deadlocked after 120 minutes. Like four years ago, the situation was clear. Cesc Fabregas took his spot, the stadium kept cool, Spain knew their son had to come to the party again. Cool, composed, humbled, a few steps back, face planted firmly on the post and the man who stood between him, his motherland and glory, he took the hard option, knocked both the posts and off he went, Spain were in the finals. Who was to deny them, that was a hell of a penalty. Top class kick, top class player and wait….wait for it…… Top class Fab.
And in the final, stretching the play with his run, Iniesta’s ball to the by-line. He used his strength to shrug off Giorgio Chiellini. Pulled it back, planted it on David Silva’s head and bang one nil. Italy were trailing for the first time in this tournament. Once more, Fabregas had proved important. The goal that started the rout; the most important rout in Spain’s history and who was the victim, Buffon and his brave Italian side.
Cesc Fabregas has been there. There for the most important moments in Spain’s history. He may not be the most important player in this historically successful team. But his exploits mean that at least he deserves a worthy mention. And in ages to come, when people talk of La Furia Roja and remember Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, they sure will have a special place for Francesc Fabregas.
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