There were two types of legacy Luis Aragonés left Vicente del Bosque. The first was pressure, given that the Wise Man of Hortaleza had become the first Spanish tournament winner in 44 years. The second was a group of young, coming-to-peak-age players.
Cesc Fàbregas is one of them. Four years ago, he was an impact sub and, when David Villa was injured, it was the then-Arsenal FC captain who took over as support striker to Fernando Torres. Throughout the tournament Fàbregas was a key man, far beyond simply converting the winning penalty against Italy in a cliffhanger of a quarter-final.
Now this most talented of footballers, despite all the divinely gifted players in his way, has suddenly become Spain's starting centre-forward. Despite all the debate back home, the FC Barcelona man is not only comfortable in his role, but he knows to whom he owes the confidence to make a success of the switch.
He told UEFA.com: "
Luis Aragonés was one of the people that really showed me the ropes. He always told me that I was always so busy looking to make assists that it meant I would miss scoring goals. He could see I had the ability to score goals – to make good runs beyond the defence – and he told me that in football, scoring goals is what really matters. He said nobody remembers the assists or who was involved in the build-up to a goal, but people remember the player who scores.
"He kept repeating the word 'goal' to me. And what he said is true – I used to be most happy when I was making goals for people. But once you discover scoring, then you want a goal in every match. The truth is that there is nothing more beautiful than scoring a goal."
What Fàbregas knows but does not need to articulate is that if he starts against the Republic of Ireland or not, he will get full support from Fernando Llorente, Álvaro Negredo or Torres, three men who – to the general public's mind, if not Del Bosque's – would normally have first claims on the No9 role. Fàbregas knows he might need that backing, too.
"No, no, no," came his emphatic answer to the question 'Will it be easy against Giovanni Trapattoni's team?'. He added: "If we think like that that, we would already be losing 1-0. We always say that kind of thing to motivate ourselves. We are a humble team, we respect other sides and treat them the way we should. I think that helps us get the result we deserve. We will put everything we have into the game. We have to play our own style of football, to never give up, and keep attacking."
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