Chelsea star César Azpilicueta answered students’ questions at Glenthorne High School. Find out the background story behind Azpilicueta’s infamous nickname ‘Dave’:
If you were to give one piece of advice to an aspiring footballer what would it be?
When I was young I would always be thinking about having fun, playing football with my friends and it is important that when you are trying to become a professional footballer that you don’t lose this. Don’t worry or get obsessed about reaching the very top, your talent will get you there.
Growing up, were you always a defender?
No, I was a striker. Even from the beginning at Osasuna (youth system) I played very attacking as a striker or right winger. I played my first game in the third division (Segunda Division B) again as a right winger but eventually I converted to defence.
Who do you think is the best defender in the world?
I have had the chance to play with some world class defenders at both Chelsea and the national team. John Terry, as our captain, is an incredible leader, very humble and has been a top defender for many years. I’ve played the last five years with him and it is great to learn from him. In the national team I have also been very fortunate to play with many great defenders such as Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique who have won it all with their clubs.
Who is the most difficult player you have played against?
When I was in Spain (with Osasuna) I played against a Barcelona team that included the likes of Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry and David Villa. It was an incredible forward line. In England, every weekend you face some incredible players. The most difficult players to play against in England are those that are very physical, it is a big challenge.
What is your favourite goal you have ever scored?
I don’t score many but maybe it is the goal I scored this season at Leicester in the [EFL] Cup. It was a fantastic game and we really wanted to start building momentum as it was early in the season. I always remember my first goal for Chelsea against Arsenal. It may not have been the most spectacular of goals but it was very special for me as it was my first for the club.
Who are your best friends at Chelsea?
We have a very close knit squad at Chelsea. Eden Hazard is probably my closest friend, I think it is because we came to the club at similar times (summer of 2012) and he lives not far from me so we sometimes travel to and from training with each other. Our families are also close so yes, Eden.
What is the reason behind your nickname ‘Dave’ at Chelsea?
It’s funny! I remember we were doing a meeting with some Chelsea fans at Stamford Bridge and me, Oriol Romeu and Fernando Torres were the only Spanish players at the club at the time. One of the questions was if they could call me Dave, I couldn’t speak the greatest English at the time so I just said sure. It’s kind of stuck with me.
Who is the most skilful player currently playing for Chelsea?
It has to be Eden. The skill he has with the ball is unbelievable. He can glide past one, two, three, four like they are not even there. It’s difficult to stop. Football is about beating your opponent and I can’t think of anyone who does it better that Eden.
Which signing has impressed you most at Chelsea this season?
We made some excellent signings in the summer and ones that were able to go straight into the team and have a huge impact on our performances. David Luiz and Marcos Alonso both came into the team when results weren’t good and their performances are major factors in us being top of the league and challenging for the title this season. [N’golo] Kante has also been very, very good since his arrival. He was amazing for Leicester last year and he has definitely continued that with us this season.
Antonio Conte has Chelsea on the verge of winning the Premier League. What is he like to play for as a manager?
Since the first day Antonio Conte made it clear that our aim is to win the Premier League. This is his first time in England and I think he has adapted very well. It is clear that he studied the English game before he came and us as a team. We are working really hard and hopefully we can win many trophies this year and in the years to come with Antonio.
Are there any current Chelsea players that you see making good managers in the future?
I think it is common to see players become a manager. I think when you have the experience of being a player and having been managed by many different types of managers it gives you a good idea. I think John Terry would make a great manager, he works extremely closely with Antonio and I know it’s in his mind to begin moving in that direction.