Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas has singled out Arsene Wenger as the most important coach in his career, but has a soft spot for the Arsenal manager’s rival Jose Mourinho.
Wenger brought Fabregas from Barcelona to Arsenal’s academy as a 16-year-old in 2003, trusting him with a vital role in his midfield.
The Spaniard won the FA Cup in 2005 and finished as a Champions League runner-up a year later before returning to Barcelona in 2011, where he won the Spanish league title.
Fabregas then shocked Arsenal fans by signing for their London rivals Chelsea in 2014, guiding the Blues to the Premier League title in his first season at Stamford Bridge.
Despite being criticised for turning his back on Arsenal and Wenger by joining Chelsea while Mourinho was in west London.
Speaking to FourFourTwo, Fabregas said:”Arsene Wenger was probably the most important because he gave me the real chance, the chance that everyone needs and everyone wants.
“After that it’s up to you to prove that they are right, they are wrong, it’s in your hands, but he gave me the chance.
“He took me when I was only 16 – he made me a better player, a better person. I always considered him like a father figure, like a second father.
“The way he treated me it’s not normal nowadays in football because everything is so fast, everyone is so impatient – you need results now.
“And for that Wenger is a special manager and a special person, and without him I wouldn’t be here right now.”
As for Mourinho – now at Manchester United after being sacked by Chelsea in December – Fabregas said: “Working with Mourinho was fantastic. His passion for football, his character, his ambition to always win every three days is not easy.
“The way he pushes his players to be better every day is what impresses me the most – it was a really fantastic experience.”
And despite Pep Guardiola’s reputation as one of the world’s leading managers, Fabregas – who reportedly fell out with the Catalan coach back at Barca – says the new Manchester City coach’s job was made easier at Camp Nou by stars such as Lionel Messi and Xavi.
He added: “With Pep obviously I learned a different way to understand football tactically, but we were playing with great players so it becomes a little bit easier in terms of winning titles.”