Cesc Fabregas believes he is winning the biggest battle of his career.
The Spaniard admits it would have been easy to “run away” and quit Chelsea after losing his place when Antonio Conte took over last summer.
But Fabregas says his love of English football, London and a new found maturity convinced him to stay and fight for his future at Stamford Bridge.
It is clearly paying rich rewards because he clocked up a goal, an assist and a man-of-the match performance on his 300th appearance in the Premier League.
The Chelsea midfielder said: “Experience and maturity gives you this because in the beginning when I didn’t play, I told people not even to speak to me because I was really upset.
“But that changes with time. Age, maturity and experience helps you understand that the most important thing is always the team.
“Don’t get me wrong, I want to play. Every football player wants to play every single minute but sometimes you have to fight for it. Sometimes the easy way is to escape, to run away, to sulk and to want to leave, to create a drama.
“But in my mind, I decided I wanted to challenge myself, not everything comes easy in life, sometimes you have to fight certain situations you are not used to, or are against you in a way. But hopefully I have shown the manager can trust me in a way.”
Fabregas is only 29 but, after making his debut for Arsenal as a 16-year-old, even he admits there are more miles on the clock than most players of his age.
But he says he still feels young in his mind and Conte’s methods have actually helped revitalise his career.
Fabregas said: “What keeps me going is the fact that I feel really good, I feel in great condition to play football for a very long time. I know in my legs, in my mind, I know I’ve played many more games than a 29-year-old is supposed to play.
“But I feel young in my mind. It’s all in the mind. I feel fresh. Now with Conte, I’m learning new things, new situations, new manners, new football, new philosophy which makes a difference, it makes it entertaining.
“I know sometimes I didn’t play as much but even in training I’m learning and sometimes you think if you’ve been playing for a long time, won a lot, you’ve done everything and then you realise that in football you can never know everything.
“I’m in a good moment, a good situation and hopefully I’ve reversed the situation from the beginning of the season to now and hopefully I can keep playing like that to keep my place.”
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