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Soccer player Cesc Fàbregas has starred for the Arsenal and FC Barcelona clubs and led Spain to multiple championships in international competition.
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Cesc Fàbregas was born on May 4, 1987, in Arenys de Mar, Spain. A talented midfielder, he became the youngest player to appear for the Arsenal soccer club as well as a Spanish World Cup team. Fàbregas spent nine seasons with Arsenal before transferring to FC Barcelona, and served as a key member of the Spanish teams that won Euro 2008 and 2012 and the 2010 World Cup.
Professional soccer player Francesc "Cesc" Fàbregas Soler was born on May 4, 1987, in the Spanish port town of Arenys de Mar. Fàbregas came from a modest background. His mother, Nuria, worked as a caterer for a time, while his father, Francesc Fàbregas Sr., kept his family fed by laboring as a construction worker. Soccer was also a large part of his father's life; Francesc Sr. continued to play soccer even after his son was born, and when it came time for young Fàbregas to take the field, it was his dad who served as his first coach.
From an early age, Fàbregas demonstrated the mental toughness and dedication to the game that set him apart as a true professional. At the age of 8, with dreams of playing professionally very much on his mind, Fàbregas was already training hard and becoming careful about his diet, opting for fish and vegetables over fast food. At age 10, he joined soccer club FC Barcelona's youth academy, a renowned training ground for some of the sport's most promising young players.
In the summer of 2003, Fàbregas showcased his impressive talent in the FIFA U-17 World Championship in Finland, where the playmaker led Spain to a second-place finish, captured the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player and received the Golden Boot award for becoming the tournament's top scorer.
Just a few months later, Fàbregas signed his first professional contract, with the Premier League club Arsenal. For Fàbregas, the decision to leave home and jump to England was a big one. But Arsenal, a club that cultivated a reputation for developing young players under the direction of manager Arsene Wenger, was more than willing to work with the midfielder and lessen the chance for any homesickness.
He moved into a home in Barnet, Hertfordshire, that was run by a woman who looked after some of Arsenal's younger players. There, Fàbregas lived a fairly simple life, with days dominated by practice time and English lessons. "I had a stereo, some clothes, a computer, a tiny television, which was hooked up to my PlayStation," he later recalled. "I'd think about my friends back home, who were out clubbing and having a good time and there I was, all by myself, in front of the computer, wondering what the hell I was doing. It was tough, but it was a choice I made."
It wasn't long before Fàbregas saw the benefits of his social sacrifices. In October 2003, the midfielder made his debut with Arsenal, giving him the distinction of becoming the youngest player ever to step onto the field for the club.
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To Americans, it is soccer. Elsewhere, it is called football, calcio or nogomet. Whatever your preference, with estimates of more than 250 million participants across 200-plus countries, it is a game of unmatched global reach and popularity. It's been noted that one doesn't need special size or skills to play, but of course the game's all-time greats displayed dazzling combinations of speed, smarts and athletic ability throughout their careers. Look through our roster of soccer legends, including Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Diego Maradona, and you'll understand why this sport of many names is also known as "the beautiful game."
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