LONDON – Cesc Fabregas bade an emotional farewell after 504 appearances in English football when he was substituted in the 85th minute of Chelsea’s win over Nottingham Forest yesterday.
Fabregas was captain and missed a first-half penalty but his team ran out comfortable winners, thanks to two goals from Alvaro Morata.
The 31-year-old Fabregas left the pitch in tears when he was replaced by N’Golo Kante.
He waved to the stands and basked in the applause before embracing Maurizio Sarri. He has appeared in 198 games for Chelsea in all competitions and scored 22 goals since signing from Barcelona in 2014.
The next stop for the former Arsenal man is expected to be Monaco.
“Time flies,” said Fabregas. “It feels like last week that I started playing professionally and now it’s more than 15 years. It goes so fast and you have to be ready every three days, both for the criticism and with everyone saying how good you are - the ups and downs.
‘It feels like growing older, the technique never goes away. The physicality goes away and the technicality stays with you.”
On his penalty saved by Luke Steele yesterday, Fabregas added: “I saw the keeper going down in the middle of the run and I thought I had it. It was unfortunate. The day I got 100 caps for Spain I also missed a penalty, so it was destiny.”
Chelsea team-mate Ross Barkley said: “Playing with him has been a pleasure. He’s going to go down as one of the best midfielders ever.”
A setback for Sarri came when Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s bad back flared up in the first half and may rule him out of action until a solution can be found.
“We are very sorry for the kid,” said Sarri’s assistant Carlo Cudicini. “It’s a pity. It is something that’s affecting him, something we need to look at and resolve.
“It has been going on for a while and maybe he might have to stop for a bit to resolve it. It is a pity because he is doing very well.”
Mail On Sunday