Cesc Fabregas has been discussing his relationship with Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, noting he would have died for the Portuguese.
The Spaniard spent the early stages of his career competing against Mourinho as an Arsenal player, failing to record a win even once, before later enjoying slightly more success at Barcelona when the Portuguese was in charge at Real Madrid.
He was then lured to Stamford Bridge by Mourinho in 2014, signing for €33m and making 47 appearances as Chelsea strolled to the Premier League title.
And Fabreagas, reflecting on his relationship with Mourinho, noted that he will always hold the 54-year-old in high esteem.
“He was my enemy when he was in charge at Madrid or Chelsea, competing and wanting to beat him,” he said.
“From there I became his player at Chelsea and would go with him to the death. I learned a lot, I have a very positive memory of him. Forever.”
Very few managers have the same lasting impact on players past and present as Mourinho. What happens behind the scenes with the Portuguese is intentionally ambiguous.
This is his group, his band of warriors, and he keeps them close, hungry and, most importantly, largely closed off from the prying eyes of the footballing world, with the boss serving as a perfect lighting rod through the occasional comment that dominates the headlines.
You sense that, under Mourinho, you’ll be protected. Players are willing to die for Mourinho because the man would die for the cause as well. He doesn’t care about anything outside his group, and his message to those within is simple: work hard, give me everything, and I will make you a champion.