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One of Europe's brightest footballing talents, Arsenal FC captain Cesc Fàbregas gives his most candid interview yet in the latest issue of Champions – the official UEFA Champions League magazine – which is out this week.
The midfielder recalls falling out of love with the game – "I lost passion and was happiest at home, everything was negative" – and explains how a spell on the sidelines gave him new direction. He also discusses what makes Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger laugh, how you can never please all the fans, and watching Barcelona incognito.
Focus on keepers
Goalkeepers take centre stage too, as Real Madrid CF's Iker Casillas reveals those who inspired him and names his all-time goalkeeping heroes. We have an exclusive with one of those favourites – FC Bayern München legend Sepp Maier. The three-time European Champion Clubs' Cup winner reminisces about his colourful career, including his stints as an air steward: "Imagine travelling on the same plane as the national team and the Germany keeper is serving you. And I was good at it!" Talking of greats, we look at why Spain produces so many top keepers, while exploring the unforgiving world of football's lone stars.
Champions speaks exclusively with two of the European game's young aces. AC Milan's Pato charts his journey from Brazil, revealing his hopes for the future and giving a glimpse of his life at the club. "It's one big family here, on and off the pitch," he says. ACF Fiorentina's Stevan Jovetić is loving his first season in the limelight. "That night [in the UEFA Champions League group-stage match against Liverpool FC earlier this season] I will never forget. Everything went perfectly," he reflects.
FC Internazionale Milano will never forget their former coach, Helenio Herrera, who was one of football's great technicians. Champions publishes the methods and ideas of the 'Magician', as he was known, as jotted down in his private notebooks.
With Europe's defenders running scared of Cristiano Ronaldo, Champions looks at his record and finds out if there are ways to stop him. However, there is no stopping his Real Madrid CF team-mate Gonzalo Higuaín or FC Barcelona's Pedro. Both forwards have eclipsed big-name players to become integral to their sides' success. Pedro says of his UEFA Champions League debut in Rome last May: "I won the lottery, I was the one who got the chance. "
Elsewhere, Champions examines the tactic that no top side can afford to ignore: the counterattack; comes face to face with Chelsea FC defender Ricardo Carvalho; chats exclusively to Sevilla FC coach Manuel Jiménez; hears from Manchester United FC's academy director Brian McClair on Old Trafford's next generation; finds yesterday's heroes who are inspiring today's stars; and spotlights the very first European trophy – the brainchild of a Belgian count.
Champions, the UEFA Champions League's official magazine, is on sale this week on newsstands across Europe.
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