It proved to be a routine victory for Chelsea on Monday night, as two goals in the opening half from Olivier Giroud and Timo Werner earned new manager Thomas Tuchel all three points against Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge.
This is very much the start of yet another new era for Chelsea, but for Cesar Azpilicueta, such situations are anything but new. Since his arrival in London from Marseille in the summer of 2012, the current Chelsea captain has now played under nine managers in as many seasons.
Impressively, Cesar Azpilicueta has maintained his place in the starting lineup under every manager he has played under.
Tactically, the team has continually evolved and adapted each and every time a new philosophy and approach has been introduced; but it is a measure of the full-back's consistency and adaptability that he has held his position while the team revolves around him.
Cesar Azpilicueta arrived at Stamford Bridge with Chelsea looking to build on their elite status of European champions. Under the tutelage of Roberto Di Matteo, the club had defied odds just a couple of months ago. Chelsea beat Bayern Munich on penalties at the Allianz Arena to lift the UEFA Champions League trophy, their first and only title in the competition to date.
Cesar Azpilicueta the only constant at Chelsea amidst nine managers in nine seasons
The Champions League triumph wasn’t enough to keep Robert Di Matteo in the Chelsea top job.
Rafael Benitez, Jose Mourinho, Steve Holland, Guus Hiddink, Antonio Conte, Maurizio Sarri, Frank Lampard and current incumbent Thomas Tuchel have been at the Chelsea helm since then.
Nine managers in nine seasons have brought Chelsea success and failure in equal measure. But the expectations of owner Roman Abramovich have not wavered. Nevertheless, Cesar Azpilicueta has survived them all.
Now a veteran of over 400 competitive games for the club, Cesar Azpilicueta has lifted the Premier League title twice, the UEFA Europa League twice, and the FA Cup and the League Cup once.
The UEFA Champions League has so far eluded Cesar Azpilicueta in his decorated career, and the challenge of La Liga leaders Atlético Madrid next week is about as tough as it comes right now.
Representing a club like Chelsea for almost a decade is a rare achievement in the modern game. But Azpilicueta is still only 31, and his defensive role should enable him to continue for a few more years (and managers) to come.
He will be remembered as a club legend, even though he rarely makes the headlines with his understated yet invaluable contribution.
Surprisingly, international opportunities for Cesar Azpilicueta have been limited. That is despite the player emerging as part of Spain's next generation following the successful tiki-taka era that delivered two UEFA EURO titles and the FIFA World Cup between 2008 and 2012.
Realising his dream, the man from Pamplona made his senior international debut in February 2013. But the last of his 25 appearances for La Furia Roja was in 2018, despite Cesar Azpilicueta remaining available for selection.
Cesar Azpilicueta – A model investment
Of course, competition for a place in the Spanish national team is intense, but it is difficult to understand how such a consistent performer can be overlooked.
However, Spain’s loss has been Chelsea’s gain. Cesar Azpilicueta's club longevity can be attributed to the fact that he has been rather fortuitous in terms of avoiding serious injuries. In this regard, the periodic rest offered by the international calendar has surely helped the player.
After emerging through the youth ranks at Osasuna, the then-teenager established himself in the senior side in 2007, making over a century of appearances, before attracting the attention of French outfit Marseille in 2010.
There, Azpilicueta's performances in the UEFA Champions League pushed his game to another level, and it was Chelsea who took advantage of Marseille’s weak financial position with a bargain £7m move.
Cesar Azpilicueta was one of nine new arrivals at Chelsea during a period that was headlined by the signings of Eden Hazard and Oscar amongst others.
Since that summer in 2012, the club has spent over £1.2bn in completing more than 50 permanent transfers. However, few have matched the value of Cesar Azpilicueta, or mirrored his success at Chelsea.