Cesc Fabregas says he will be “forever be grateful” to Arsenal and Arsene Wenger for the faith shown in him and the platform for future success that they provided.
The Gunners lured the Spaniard away from Barcelona’s academy ranks while still in his teens.
He was quickly introduced to the first team fold, making his debut in October 2003.
Fabregas would spend eight seasons in north London, making over 300 appearances and toasting FA Cup success in 2005.
Barcelona tempted him back to his roots in 2011, with the creative midfielder heading home as a European Champion and World Cup winner.
Further success followed at Camp Nou, while a Premier League title has been added to his list of honours since returning to England with Chelsea, but Fabregas admits it was the grounding he got at Arsenal that has allowed him to grace the very highest levels of the game.
“Arsene Wenger especially, and Arsenal, gave me everything,” he said in an interview with Natacha Tannous.
“Without them I wouldn’t be a World Cup winner, a European Championship winner. I would not have experienced all of this that I am doing in my life.
“So I will always forever be grateful.
“There is many things said about me, about Arsenal, about stuff like that.
“Obviously I don’t really care about what people think about me any more.
“Arsenal will always be the team that believe in me the most.”
Fabregas is currently preparing himself for a reunion with the Gunners, with Wenger’s side due at Stamford Bridge for a crunch Premier League clash on Saturday.