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From Zizur Mayor to London
Like many other youngsters from Navarre, César Azpilicueta’s hope was to play for Osasuna. Before reaching 18 years old, he was an emerging talented player from Tajonar. His debut in the First Division was a matter of time. He couldn’t have predicted his first match with the veterans: On the 8th of April 2007, Santiago Bernabéu saw his first minutes in La Liga, although he had already played in La Copa. At only 17 years old, César entered the pitch under the close scrutiny of thousands of fans in one of the most imposing stadiums in the world.
That participation was the first of a large list. Azpilicueta successfully beat the opposition and ended up being the starter right back defender, consolidating himself in that position. The institution from Navarre left their best years behind and started to recycle itself to reassure their spot in La Liga. They achieved that aim, not without suffering, during the seasons in which this footballer from Zizur Mayor dressed his Zamarra (Sheepskin coat). In 2010, César had already played 100 games with Osasuna. He wasn’t yet 21 years old, something that boosted the merit of that achievement. He surpassed Iñigo Larrainzar reaching 100 matches with Osasuna, being even younger than him when achieving it. His confidence made him leave Navarra sooner than expected.
Olympique de Marseille confirmed Azpilicueta’s signing in Summer 2010. Amidst the heat of the Velodrome fans, César played two seasons with both good and bad moment. He gained his first titles as a professional (French Supercups of 2010 and 2011, Cup of the League 2011-2012).
Nevertheless, he suffered the sourest part of football. In November 2010, he broke his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee. Six months strengthened the player’s determination to become one of the best. When he returned, he became one of the best wing defenders of the continent. His extraordinary talent helped him to be spotted by Chelsea, the surprising Champion of Europe.
César had debuted in Champions while playing for Olympique on 15 Sep 2010 at the age of 21. Two years later he was playing his first match with Chelsea in the most prestigious competition in the world. He had joined the blues at the end of August. It was not an easy year at Stamford Bridge. Rafa Benitez had replaced Di Matteo before Christmas. Under Benitez orders, Azpilicueta had many opportunities. One of the at the Europa League final against Benfica. Chelsea won 2-1 and César conquered his first-ever European title with a club.
Mourinho´s arrival in 2013 was a significant turning-point for the Zizur player career. The portuguese played him on the left, and the outcome was satisfactory so he starded most of the games that year. The season ended with no titles, but at a personal level, Azpilicueta had cause for satisfaction. On the one hand, Mou praised him publicly with a very telling phrase: “I think a team with 11 Azpilicuetas could win the Champions.” César was elected player of the year at Chelsea by his team mates. It was not a minor recognition, given the level shown by players like Hazard, Cech or any of the defensive line (Terry, Cahill, Ivanovic).
The 2014-15 season closes with two titles, the Capital One Cup and the Premier League, recently won. Another outstanding campaign for Azpilicueta, that shows his versatility and consistency, surpassing again the 40 matches mark.
In the 15-16 season, César established himself as a key player at Chelsea (37 Premier League games and 8 Champions League games, plus two goals), the team struggled to reach the main targets. Under Antonio Conte, in the 16-17 season, Azpilicueta has shown another level to his game. “César is one of the best in the world in this role”, says the italian coach. In january, the spanish defender completed a whole year playing in every Chelsea game.
On 12 May 2017, Azpilicueta won his second Premier League title. The spaniard played every minute of every Premier League and played as right back as well as right-sided centre-back. Antonio Conte said about him: “Azpi is incredible in his new role, one of the best in the world”.
César won the FA Cup in the 17-18 season. A title that he didn’t have and now is on his brilliant track record. This season is marked by Azpilicueta’s great performance: he becomes Chelsea’s second captain and beats his own record of matches played per season reaching 52 games with the blues.
César Azpilicueta widened his track record on May 29, 2019, after conquering his second Europa League with Chelsea. The player from Navarre lifted the Cup as the captain ending a spectacular season in which he has played 56 official matches, more than any other player in all major European leagues.
The 2020-21 season has been the definitive enshrinement of César Azpilicueta at a personal and collective level. Although the beginnings of season are often complicated, The Navarro is loyal to his commitment and teamwork principles and collaborates to take Chelsea to the Last Sixteen stage of the Champions League. Since January 2021, with the arrival of Tuchel, when Chelsea reaches their maximum level, with Azpilicueta in the pitch, culminating an excepcional season with the Champions League title. Azpilicueta lifts the trophy on the 29th of May in Oporto and reaches the sky: he was included in the Best 11 of the Season. Also, that season Chelsea reached the finals of the Fa Cup and is qualified for the next Champions League competition.
Hardened in the youth teams of the National team (took part in the winnings of the U-19 European Cup in 2007 and in the U-21 European Cup in 2011), Azpilicueta did not go unnoticed for Del Bosque before the 2010 World Cup. The Salamancan, short-listed him for the tournament in South African , although he was not in the final list of 23.
Azpilicueta´s debut as a capped player for Spain came on the 6 Feb 2013, in a friendly against Uruguay in Doha. The Navarre player was in the line-up. A few months earlier, he had one of the worst experiences in his career. At the Olympic Games in London, Spain, which was the favourite, was unable to qualify for the knock-out stage. Attending the opening of the Olympic Games is something the Navarre never forget.
Azpilicueta´s career with La Roja has had many ups and lows. Collectively, the 2013 Confecup disappointment and the Brasil World Cup disaster; and in the personal level, his versatility as a defender, makes him a valuable asset for Del Bosque. César participated in Euro 2016, in which Spain eliminated by Italy after the group’s stage. Azpilicueta feels Lopetegui’s trust too, and regularly takes part in the squad during the qualification to Russia 2018.
En 2021, tras una fantástica temporada, Luis Enrique le llama para jugar la Eurocopa. El navarro cuaja un gran torneo con España: contagia su liderato dentro y fuera del campo, anota un gol clave ante Croacia y alcanza las semifinales.
In 2021, after a successful season, Luis Enrique calls him for the Euro 2021. César plays a great tournament with Spain: He passes on his leadership and commitment, scores a key goal against Croatia and reaches the semi-finals.
Olympique de Marsella
Trophée des champions 2010
Coupe de France 2011
Trophée des champions 2011
Coupe de France 2012
UEFA Europa League 2013
Capital One Cup 2015
Premier League 2015
Premier League 2017
FA Cup 2018
UEFA Europa League 2019
UEFA Champions League 2021
Eurocopa ‘Under 19’ 2007
Eurocopa ‘Under 21’ 2011