The Joy Of Cesc

April 29, 2011 at 3:38 pm 10 comments

At about 8:45 p.m. on Tuesday night, I was running in my neighbourhood clad in an Arsenal jersey, shorts and slip-on office shoes, holding an iPhone in my hand. In short, I looked like a homeless person who had just stolen someone’s phone. But I had a very good reason for looking like this – I wanted to meet Cesc Fabregas.

“Wait, what?” you’re probably saying, “Where? How? Why? Eh?” I’ll explain.

Until now, I’ve not been a big fan of Twitter. I signed up initially only to get the id I wanted and have been tweeting only occasionally. One of its biggest attractions for me has been the fact that I could follow celebrities and read what they’re thinking and doing.

In the last six months or so, there has been a glut of Arsenal players signing up to Twitter – Jack Wilshere and Cesc Fabregas among the first ones, and soon we had Johan Djourou, Bacary Sagna, Samir Nasri, Robin van Persie, and lot of the others on the site as well. Needless to say, I was soon following them all. In fact, I was also following some of the reserves and youth team members and it was actually quite fascinating to get insights into the lives of professional footballers and find out that they have a lot in common, irrespective of age, quality or stature. These are the things that I learnt:

a) They have a questionable fashion sense.
b) They like to take pictures of their teammates asleep on the team bus.
c) They like to eat grilled chicken at Nando’s.
d) Most players, especially the English ones, don’t have a good hold on English.

Anyway, so what all this lead to was that on Tuesday night, I’d just gotten back from the gym and was watching Manchester Utd dominate Schalke when I saw that Cesc Fabregas had sent the following tweet: “Watching my friends playing 5 a side. Some good quality.

Out of habit, I clicked on the link to see the photo, even though I wasn’t the least bit interested in seeing a photo of his friends playing football. But on seeing the photo, I did a double take. The scene was oddly familiar. So I turned to my flatmate, who was right next to me, and had the following short conversation:

Me: “Dude, doesn’t that look like the 5-a-side football pitch right next to our house?”

Him: “Umm.. yeah. Why, what’s up?”

Me: “I think CESC FABREGAS might be outside. Be right back!” (while scrambling for my shoes and running out of the house)

As it turns out, the only shoes I found that didn’t require lace-tying were my work slip-ons. So there I was – Arsenal jersey (which I’d worn to the gym), shorts, and work shoes with no socks, running on the street in desperation to see if Cesc was still at the football pitch. He’d tweeted the photo 20-30 minutes previously so there was a good chance that he’d have left by the time I went.

Panting, I reached the pitch to find a game in progress. And alongside the pitch, sitting on the grass, all by himself, was a diminutive figure wearing a leather jacket and jeans. He was watching quietly, while playing with his phone. My heart was now pounding. The photo that had been tweeted was from the place where this guy was seated, and as I approached him, it became clearer to me that this could very well be the man (boy, really) I’d watched orchestrate proceedings for my favourite team for the last 6 years. A guy who, despite the fact that I hadn’t ever met him, I usually referred to by a shortened first name. And it was this name that I used now.

“Cesc?”, I called out. And he turned. It was him.

“Yeah”, he said, and then spotting my Arsenal jersey, smiled and said “Hey!”

Then, I proceeded to have the most surreal five minutes of my life. Me (ME!), and Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal captain, World Cup winner, Footballing deity), one-to-one, with no fans mobbing him, sitting on the grass in the quiet surroundings of Swiss Cottage, London, watching a bunch of his friends playing 5-a-side football, and chit-chatting about stuff.

Me: Oh My God, it IS you! I just saw the photo you’d put on Twitter and came out to see if you were actually here.

Cesc: Oh wow! That is nice!

Me: Such a pleasure to meet you! I’ve been a big fan of the club for 12 years now and have watched you ever since you started!

Cesc: That’s great! Where are you from?

Me: India, but I’ve been here for a year and a half. Do you come here often?

Cesc: No no, first time. Some friends are playing there.

Me: Oh cool, (and then some random stuff amounting to “I know it’s been a disappointing season. Lots of bad luck. But we fans still love you guys. You’re fantastic. Blah blah. Thanks for the entertainment. Blah Blah.”)

Cesc: Yes, yes, we know. You guys are so great. We are very disappointed as well. Next time, next time, we will do it for sure.

Me: Yeah, busy summer also for you. Congratulations on the World Cup win!

Cesc: Thank you very much. It was unbelievable.

Me: Ok Cesc, I won’t bother you anymore. One photo?

Cesc: Of course, of course.

Me: Thanks SO MUCH! So great to meet you. Good luck for the Man Utd game. Please beat them!

Cesc: Hahaha, we will give our best. Very nice to meet you. Just, please don’t tell anyone I’m here, ok?

Me: Of course! Bye!

Cesc: Bye!

S-U-R-R-E-A-L. With a capital S.

And there were several things that struck me about him. Now here was a 23-year old guy, rich beyond most people’s imaginations, who’s been a regular for one of the world’s biggest football clubs for six years already, who has already won the two biggest international trophies, playing a key role in Euro 2008 and providing the assist for the World Cup winning goal at the 2010 World Cup. And still, he was watching a bunch of his friends play 5-a-side. And on top of that, he was willing to take time out and chat patiently to a fan who was quite blatantly intruding on his privacy. Absolutely fantastic guy, and I now love him more than I did before.

P.S.: I know he’ll eventually move to Barcelona, and it will be pretty heart-breaking, but it’s hard to begrudge Cesc his desired move. After all, he HAS been fully committed to the Arsenal cause and the fans know he loves Arsenal a lot as well. I’m just glad I got to shake his hand when he was Arsenal captain. Cheers, Cesc!


Entry filed under: Arsenal, Football, Personal.

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10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. andy  |  April 29, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    S-U-R-R-E-A-L with all caps ofcourse!

  • 2. Vinod  |  April 29, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    True. 🙂

  • 3. Abhimanyu  |  April 29, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Great post da! Can almost see/feel the joy.

  • 4. Anuradha  |  April 29, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Neat. You should really write more often!

  • 5. Ludwig  |  April 29, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    …and when I saw your Facebook update, I was mystified as to why you were getting so many kicks out of posing for a photo with Neil Nitin Mukesh…

  • 6. Vinod  |  April 30, 2011 at 3:58 am


    Thanks, man! Glad that was evident! 🙂


    Thanks! I really want to! But I spend most of my time typing e-mails these days! 😉


    LOL. Always knew you were a Sports Quiz god. 🙂

  • 7. Ash  |  May 4, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Jealous beyond words!

  • 8. realnirmal  |  July 24, 2011 at 7:54 am

    That’s awesome. I am sure you will be telling this to your grandchildren that you met Cesc when he was Arsenal Captain !!

    As you ended the post, he might eventually retire @ Nou Camp i think he might move next year 🙂

    Just landed her from your twitter page. 🙂

  • 9. Aranyi  |  August 2, 2011 at 6:00 am

    OMG Cesc is HOTTTT!!!!!

  • 10. Hariharan K (@harikmurthy)  |  March 26, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    Wow … your eye for detail made this happen … Congrats !! I can imagine the feeling !!


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