This is me: Ludovic Fabregas
The This is Me series continues with a French line player who has always had Catalan blood running through his veins. No wonder Ludovic Fabregas feels at home at Barça.
It was always about Catalunya.
From my grandparents through me to my son, the region, the state of mind, what it implies to be Catalan has always been there, in the Fabregas family. It all started about 70 years ago, when my dad’s parents fled from Catalunya to France to get away from Franco and his regime. My mum’s parents also came from the region, from Llanca, to be precise.
So, I literally saw the light of day bathed in the culture.
From being a kid, I could not avoid it. Even when I was practising my first sport. We shared a passion for trial cycling with my brother, Alexandre. In fact, we were among the best in the world. Twice world champion for me, three times for him, who is four years older than me.
Some say I started cycling just to copy him, and maybe there are right.
We still have a huge pond, he and I. One forged during the holidays at my grandma’s house, in Rosas, where my parents would send us to spend the summer when we were kids.
But I found handball on my own.
And it almost instantly made sense to me. The ball, the group, the team, the emotions, I felt like this was my place. And even more so as I was successful. Meaning, very successful. Sometimes, it felt that everything was almost handed to me.
That does not mean I did not work hard. Oh hell, I did. But success was something I experienced very early. Banyuls, Montpellier, the French national team at 18, the EHF Champions League in 2018 at 22, that was one hell of a ride.
And then came Barça.
Let me tell you one thing about it. This is a religion in my family. I used to watch Barça football games on telly with my grandma, and to fall asleep on the sofa before the end. My grandpa used to take us to the Camp Nou every time he went there.
But to me, to wear that jersey, it was impossible to imagine. For me, that was too high. Too crazy. Too emotional, too. When they called, I started to wonder. Is it the right time? Isn’t it too soon? And what if I fail? Would that be the biggest disappointment of my career?
So, I dived, right in. I will never know if I never try. I will probably always remember the day I was presented. The Barça staff were proper gentlemen and invited my grandpa Victor and my grandma Victoria to the ceremony. If there was a definition of pride, that was me, that very day.
I could see the tears in their eyes to see me in the Blaugrana jersey. That was their youth, their dreams, their culture, all combined in a T-shirt on my shoulders. They told me then, how pride they were. And they still do, every time we talk about it.
My whole history so far with Barça has been a matter of pride.
My first game at the Palau was against Cuenca, I think. I went there early. I had butterflies in my stomach, and I wanted to feel the arena, see myself in there. I could hear voices. It is so big, the noise around it is special and when it is empty, I swear I could hear voices. So much history, so much glorious ancestors in some many sports. Handball, basketball, roller hockey, you name it, I am sure I could hear them all.
At Barça, I met Tchouf – Cédric Sorhaindo. He was at the club long before I arrived, and he took it upon himself to kind of open the doors to the newcomers. I knew him from the national team but being with him every single day changed my life. He did not have to say much, he told me afterwards, as he saw I was already up and running. But his experience was a huge help in everyday life.
Tchouf was actually one of the Barça players I looked up to when I was younger. Viran Morros, too, as he was an amazing defender. And talking about Barça legends, I was honoured to share the same dressing room as Raul Entrerrios. He never backed off, he was a true fighter with an impressive spirit. The fact that he lasted so long in the game proved that he did everything right.
Coming back to Catalunya, it was a huge part of me and my family. But after my grandparents and my parents passed me the torch, it is now my duty to pass it on to my son. His birth helped me put things into perspective. I have become a calmer human being. It even shows on court when I speak to my teammates.
Now, I always try to bring out the positive and not only focus on the negative things. My son has taught me that. Having a newborn might not be easy – waking up at 3 a.m. is tough – but I always focus on the happiness that he brings me.
My wife and I are really positive about bringing him up in the Catalan culture. It is something that seems essential about his education.
Even though I don’t speak the language, my wife speaks to him in Catalan while I speak to him in French. Given that we both communicate in Spanish, this took some adjusting, but we have finally found our feet. Through laughs and smiles.
Jon came to see me play a couple of times already at the Palau. Though he is too young to understand what is going on, I think it is really important that he see his parents happy in their jobs.
So, my wife takes him to some of my games and, sometimes, I take him to visit his mum when she works.
And whether Jon ever wears the Barça shirt, I don’t quite care. I will be proud if he does, but I will be proud of him no matter what. If he decides to be an engineer and never plays handball, that’s fine with me as well.
Because when I finish my career, I will count my trophies. Those won in France and those won in Barcelona.
And my family will be the most important of them.