César Azpilicueta at DT
César Azpilicueta, who made VDB’s list of 26 for the Confederations Cup, was featured in the May issue of magazine DT. He not only comes off completely adorable in the interview, but also looks very, very hot in the photos. I think I have a new favorite player from Navarra… César Azpilicueta!!!!
He has an innocent face, but he has brushed aside the stereotype of a star footballer. He doesn’t like cars, he doesn’t use Twitter and the biggest splurge he’s given himself lately is to organize a football campus for children this summer in his hometown. Although in another way, like many other young people, he had to emigrate as a result of the crisis. Osasuna transferred him to Olympique de Marseille in 2010, and when he began to shine in the French league, he suffered a knee injury that kept him out for seven months. But he returned at such a high level that one year later Abramovich signed him for Chelsea. Today, he’s the boss of the right wing of the reigning champion of Europe [when this was written Chelsea was still the defending champion]. Although his club’s season has been disappointing, his performance has made him a firm candidate to play in the Confederations Cup with La Roja. The English found it difficult to pronounce his name, but they won’t forget it anytime soon: César Azpilicueta.
Before we begin, what do you call yourself? César, Azpi or Dave?
They nicknamed me “Dave” because of a comedy that’s very popular here, “Only Fools and Horses.” In it, there’s a character with a name that’s a bit strange so they decide to call him Dave. They gave it to me right after I arrived, but now they call me César.
In 2008, you said in an interview that when you play Play, you didn’t play yourself because you were “very bad.” Is the videogame Azpilicueta now at a higher level?
Yes, I have to say that he has improved a bit, but I still don’t always start myself.
Who has improved more during this time, the real or virtual Azpilicueta?
Both have experienced a marked improvement, although I believe the real one a bit more (laughs).
Your evolution has of course been meteoric. Did you dream about becoming a starter with Chelsea or a member of the best Spanish national team in history?
No, when I began I never imagined I’d be here in this moment. I’ve had good moments and some that weren’t as good, but in the end you achieve your objectives with hard work. Right now I’m very content, but I work each day to improve.
When you speak of the moments that weren’t good, you are referring to the serious injury you suffered in 2010. Did this experience toughen you?
It was a tough blow. In the beginning in Marseille, things weren’t going well for me, and at my best moment I suffered the injury. It made me better both physically and mentally. You have to dedicate yourself to taking care of yourself and carry out a routine completely apart from football.
You’ve said before that you were surprised by how demanding English football is from a physical point of view. Have you had to follow any special type of workouts?
Here, the physical aspect is more important than in Spain, where, for the way the teams play, the technical aspect is more dominant. My time in the French league was an intermediate point, because there the football is also very physical. That was good for me, but in England the second halves are a bit crazy, and that makes the Premier different from the rest of the leagues.
You have almost completed your first complete season in the Premier. Have you already discovered what it is about English football that seduces footballers?
Yes, you can tell from the first day. The organization is great. You know ahead of time what games you’re going to play, where, when… [So true, especially compared to La Liga!] And then there’s the atmosphere in the stadiums. They have a special aroma for how the fans live football.
There are English fans who believe the presence of foreign players is causing British football to lose its essence.
Yes, it’s true that the incorporation of new cultures can modify certain things, but you’re not going to lose the essence. The essence is the passion of the fans, the respect before and during games. It’s a sensation that is only felt here…
Will going to the Confederations Cup make up for the disappointing season with Chelsea [the interview was conducted before the Europa League final]?
The Confederations Cup is a very important title because Spain doesn’t have it. It would be great to win it. It would mean one more step forward in the brilliant record of the national team.
You are part of the group that has been called to take over from the reigning champions of the world and of Europe. Will you all be able to maintain the level, or will we have to once again get used to being eliminated in the quarterfinals?
The actual level is very high. This generation of players has won everything. We try and give it our all to continue on this road, but what has been done is historic.
Which player from your generation can lead the changing of the guard and take over from Casillas, Puyol, Xavi?
I see players such as Busquets, Ramos or Cesc. Although they’re very young, they have already played many games and they have ample international experience. They’re going to be part of the team for many more years and they very much have the ability to lead.
Many Spaniards have gone to London to learn English but most of them can’t even ask for a pint [so true!]. You live surrounded by Spaniards. Have you made an effort to integrate yourself into the local culture?
Yes, I’ve been studying English since the first day, although I already knew some. From the time I got here, I made an effort to integrate myself. I’ve always liked to adapt to the way of life in the country I live in. Although it’s normal that the Spaniards get together, that doesn’t mean we separate ourselves from the rest.
Let’s test your English: are you capable of translating the lyrics of the song “La raja de tu falda?” [César’s choice of song for the Chelsea new player initiation; it’s by Estopa.]
No, not yet (laughs).
Did you have to pass an initiation test, or was singing in front of the entire squad enough?
No, that was enough. There are rituals like this one on almost all of the teams. Everyone reminds you that you have to sing. I did it during the first concentración. Olympique had the same tradition. That time, I sang “Macarena.”
There are many Spaniards in the locker room of Chelsea. Do they allow you to play La Oreja de Van Gogh or are you forced to listen to Britpop?
I’m not the one in charge of music. The equipment manager decides on the music and it’s mostly rap and English hip hop. I don’t listen to music too much. Normally I have the radio on, but after you travel your tastes evolve. In France, I discovered new things, and here as well. Recently, I’ve been listening to Justin Timberlake because Juan Mata likes him a lot.
Speaking of songs, have the Chelsea fans composed a song for you yet, like Liverpool fans did for Xabi Alonso or Arsenal fans did for Cesc?
No, not yet, and it will be complicated for them to do so given how difficult it is for them to pronounce my name. But in England, you really feel the affection of the fans. The fans show your their support during each play of the game.
The Premier also has negative things, such as the sensationalist press. How have they treated you so far?
I don’t read English newspapers. I know what they’re like, I know that the press is sensationalist rather than sporting, but I haven’t had any problems.
Have you attended any of Roman Abramovich’s famous parties?
No, never. I’ve only met him two or three times, and those were all in the stadium.
Where can we find you when you’re not playing or training?
I lead a tranquil life. I like to spend time with my girlfriend and my two dogs. Sometimes I go to the center of the city, but everything is tranquil.
Are you still studying business?
No, I had to give it up when I left France.
There are several things about you that don’t fit with the stereotype of a football star. One of them is that you don’t use Twitter. What do you do while your teammates are tweeting?
I haven’t gotten into that. I’ve never been interested by that, although I won’t feel better or worse for not having it. It’s a way of expression that is great to communicate with the fans, I know that the fans appreciate it, but I try to do it though other means.
You don’t wear earrings, you don’t have tattoos and your hairstyle is similar to the one you wore as a youth player. In aesthetic terms, you also don’t fit with the prototype fashion victim footballer.
I like to change once in a while, but never in a radical way. I can’t do magic anyway. I’ve never been interested in getting tattoos, although it’s very common in England. I’m more classic, but once in a while I do try to be fashionable [jajaja, I adore him!!!!]
What type of clothing do you have the most of?
You’ve played in Spain, in France and in England. Which league follows the trends more?
I wouldn’t know what to say. Here, in Chelsea, there is a variety. Some players dress up while others are in tracksuits. Out of all the teams I’ve played for, this is the one with the most extremes.
In the interview we mentioned earlier, you said you drove a Seat León and you had no reason to change. Are you still like that?
I have changed cars. When I went to Marseille, I left it in Pamplona and I bought another one. The truth is that I don’t like cars very much. Now I have one with the steering wheel on the right. I manage it well, although at times I get too close to the curbs.
You say that Juan Mata knows all the secrets of London. Has he already told you where you can eat good meat?
At the moment no. We only usually have Spanish food at home. I mess around in the kitchen.
What does London have that Pamplona doesn’t?
You can do something every day, there are shows, restaurants, movies, theaters… although since I play every three days, I don’t have a lot of free time.
How about you, has César won you over yet like he did me?