Cesar Azpilicueta has been one of Chelsea’s most underrated players in the Premier League era. The Spaniard has set the standard with his work rate and professionalism, while he has also been lauded for his versatility, leadership qualities, and courage. Several star-studded players have graced the Stamford Bridge turf over the years, but not many of them have been as consistent as the defender, who is currently one of the longest-serving players at the club.
Azpilicueta joined Chelsea from Marseille for a fee believed to be in the region of £7 million in 2012. He didn’t take too long to hit the ground running, as he was used in a variety of positions at the back. However, the arrival of Jose Mourinho proved to be an important moment for him, as he became the Portuguese manager’s go-to man at the back.
Mourinho said in 2013 that he’d win the UEFA Champions League with a team full of Azpilicueta’s, indicating that he holds the player in high regard.
“Azpilicueta is the kind of player I like a lot. I think a team with 11 Azpilicuetas would probably win the competition (Champions League) because football is not just about pure talent"
The 2013-14 season was fantastic on a personal level for the Spaniard. Although Chelsea went trophyless, Azpilicueta grew in stature at Stamford Bridge and was voted as the club’s Player of the Season. With John Terry still at the club, the Spaniard learned the craft from one of the greats of the game, while Gary Cahill’s experience also proved to be vital to his development.
Mourinho’s second season at the club resulted in yet another Premier League title for the Blues, with Azpilicueta playing as a right-back in the 2014-15 season. Sadly, the Portuguese manager was dismissed a year later, as Antonio Conte took over the reins permanently after Guus Hiddink’s spell as interim manager.
Conte’s first season was another stunning campaign for Chelsea and Azpilicueta, as they won the Premier League title in 2017. The Spaniard was an ever-present for the Blues, as he played as a central defender in a back three alongside Cahill and David Luiz.
In the years that followed, he has been a regular member of the starting XI under Maurizio Sarri and Frank Lampard, while Thomas Tuchel also seems to hold him in high regard at the moment. Azpilicueta is one of Chelsea’s best signings in recent years and is all set to go down as a legend at Stamford Bridge.
Speaking to renowned TV presenter Anant Tyagi in 2020, Azpilicueta joked about his nickname “Dave”, which was initially coined because his surname is rather hard to pronounce. The Chelsea captain also lavished praise on the club’s new signings and emphasized that they have enough quality to come good despite their mixed start.
He was then asked a few questions by Anant Tyagi on behalf of Chelsea fans across India. When quizzed by Sharan from Hyderabad about what he felt like when he got the armband from Gary Cahill, Azpilicueta said that he’s really proud to represent the club on and off the pitch.
“Every day I try to lead by example and give maximum effort. That’s what I try to do every day!”
Azpilicueta then picked his first Premier League title triumph as his favorite Chelsea memory, having won the title under Jose Mourinho in the 2014-15 season.
“It’s very hard but I think it’s my first Premier League title at Chelsea. Another moment that goes under the radar is my debut against Wolverhampton.”
He has made over 350 appearances for the club and has won six major honors, including two Premier League titles. At the age of 32, his contract expires in 2022, but Chelsea are believed to be interested in offering him a new deal in the coming months.