He kicked Roy Keane as a precocious teenager and, now, as a near pensioner with Chelsea, Cesc Fabregas is eager to win Saturday’s FA Cup final and replace the winners’ medal he has lost.
Fabregas won the 2005 FA Cup, aged 18, with Arsenal, beating Keane’s Manchester United in a penalty shootout in the final in Cardiff.
The 31-year-old Spain playmaker hopes United will be beaten again at Wembley this weekend to give Chelsea the trophy.
“Everyone talks about the Champions League, the World Cup, the Euros, but I think if you are a bit of a romantic, the FA Cup is always very special,” Fabregas said.
“It is not easy to get into FA Cup finals. We have to value that, we have to appreciate that, go into Saturday knowing that if we win, we are winning a special trophy.”
Fabregas demonstrated his romantic side this week, marrying Daniella Semaan, the mother of his three children.
And he also reflected on the final 13 years ago – his one FA Cup winners’ medal.
“I remember kicking Roy Keane in a good one-on-one,” said Fabregas, who was a second-half substitute as the Blues lost last year’s final to Arsenal.
“I won that one so I was happy. Then I remember when Patrick (Vieira) scored the winner.
“I think it was his last kick as well for Arsenal (before joining Juventus). It was a nice moment. Good celebrations.”
Keane is a fearsome opponent, but Fabregas insisted there was no retribution from the United captain.
“I got away because he was on the floor, so he could not say anything,” Fabregas added. “He couldn’t get hold of me.”
Fabregas cannot locate the medal from that final. His father used to store his medals for him but the 2005 FA Cup medal cannot be found. The 2010 World Cup winners’ medal was discovered, after initially being mislaid.
Fabregas said: “My dad used to keep them and once I grew up, one day I said, ‘Listen, where are all my medals and stuff?’
“He nearly lost the World Cup one even. It was in my mum’s house in a box. I have nearly all of them but I’ve lost two or three.
“This FA Cup one, I cannot find it.”
Fabregas has one year remaining on his contract with Chelsea, whose usual policy for players over 30 is to offer only 12 month extensions. He is waiting to see what the future holds.
The immediate future is on his mind. Fabregas hopes Chelsea can win the FA Cup to make amends, somewhat, for the failure to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
The Blues finished fifth in the Premier League and speculation is rife Antonio Conte will leave his role as head coach, even if the Blues win the trophy on Saturday.
“We should have done better. We were not consistent enough in our performances and there is no explanation why one day we can be very good, one day after we are just not good enough,” Fabregas added.
“This is on us as players. We should have put it right when we had the chance to do it. We didn’t and we paid for it.
“It is a big disappointment, I’m sure for the club as well, because they want to be and are used to being in the Champions League every year.
“All we can do now is go on, win the final and give the fans a good end of the season.”