Belfast Telegraph

Cesc pays Wenger emotional tribute

Cesc Fabregas paid an emotional tribute to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger after completing his move to Barcelona and admitted his failure to lift a trophy as Gunners skipper will always be his "biggest regret".

The 24-year-old Catalan midfielder has finally returned to Barca eight years after leaving to sign for Arsenal as a teenager in 2003. The reigning European champions have splashed out £25.5million up front to recapture their former youth product, who has signed a five-year contract, in a deal which could eventually earn Arsenal £35million.

Fabregas had been keen to return to the Nou Camp for some time and after finally having his wish granted, paid tribute to the club where he "went from a boy to a man" but won only one major honour, the 2005 FA Cup. The former Gunners captain, who was given the armband in 2008, said: "No player is bigger than a club and I was no bigger than Arsenal."

He added: "I was just a servant and spent eight years there when I gave absolutely everything.

"It didn't show in the cabinet, I only won one FA Cup really, and this is the biggest regret I will have in my career, probably, not to be able to lift a trophy as Arsenal captain.

"I will always be an Arsenal fan because what they have done for me is unbelievable and I will never forget it."

Fabregas praised Wenger and defended his former coach's reputation in Barcelona, where he has been painted as a villain for taking Fabregas for nothing in 2003 and complaining about their attempts to buy him back in recent years.

"I'll never have enough words to thank him for all he's done for me," he said.

"I'll never forget him. I don't think he has such a good image here, he has been portrayed as something he's not, in my opinion. If today I am here with you then it's greatly due to him.

"I can't express my admiration for him strongly enough, I owe it to him that I am here. The relationship is fantastic. On Friday I said goodbye to him and I got very emotional because he's like a father figure to me."

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