Former Chelsea star Pat Nevin has claimed he "did not mean to have a go" at Cesc Fabregas during a recent radio show when he appeared to suggest the former Arsenal star was the player who would "rather lose than win" for sacked manager Jose Mourinho. Nevin has made a clarification on the disloyal claims on the club website after reports on Monday revealed that the Spanish midfielder was taking legal action against him alleging defamation.
BBC Radio 5 Live reporter Garry Richardson reported in November that that an unnamed member of the Chelsea squad had vowed he "would rather lose than win for him [Mourinho]".
Richardson brought up the comment in a recent radio show with Nevin as quoted by The Independent: "As I mentioned on BBC Radio six weeks ago, one player said, 'I'd rather lose than win for Mourinho'. Said in the heat of the moment... but it summed up the atmosphere."
The BBC presenter did not identify the player but Nevin responded: "Yeah, that was Cesc Fabregas, wasn't it?
"I thought it came out it was Cesc Fabregas. If it was, he'd been one of the strongest and it just shows in his game. I found this out myself in the last couple of days that you do sometimes take on face value what people tell you and it's not always the truth."
Daily Mail reported on Monday (21 December) that Fabregas was taking legal action against the former Chelsea star for defamation. However, Nevin has now clarified the situation through Chelsea's official club website.
"So at the risk of being self-indulgent I would like to clarify a story that emerged, not for my sake but for Cesc Fabregas who was unfairly targeted," Nevin explained. "During an interview on BBC Radio 4's Today programme I asked, in passing while talking about some other recent happenings at the club, if the player who said the phrase six weeks ago: 'I would rather lose than play for Jose,' had been outed in the press as Cesc? I absolutely wasn't having a go at Cesc, but asking the question, as the reporter I was talking to was the one who originally broke that story. Basically I thought that this had been the press line in the following days back then. He replied, 'No comment'. Even the newspaper put a question mark at the end of my sentence!"
He continued: "Cesc denied it all at the time of course (honestly as it turns out!) and odd though it may sound I couldn't have cared less anyway. The reason I wasn't that bothered was because the BBC reporter (a man I like and admire I may add) had made it perfectly clear that it was something said in the heat of the moment, in a fit of anger and it certainly did not mean that player wasn't going to try for the team really."
"When a story appeared in one of the newspapers this Saturday it was reported as if I was deliberately outing Cesc. Now whether it was mischievous on the newspaper's part for deliberately misunderstanding me or whether I was not clear enough in what I was saying and the fault was thus partially mine, it doesn't matter (I accept my accent, diction and even clarity of meaning aren't always picked up perfectly, especially by some southern ears). In short, I did not mean to have a go at Cesc in any way at all; I was merely asking a question."
Earlier in the season Fabregas already came out to deny some reports he was behind a mutiny against the manager – while he was also one of the first to express his sadness via his Twitter account about the dismissal of the Portuguese tactician last week. However, fans gave him and Diego Costa an unfriendly reception at Stamford Bridge with boos during the weekend victory over Sunderland.
Nevin has now made an apology to the Spaniard, claiming he did not deserve the hostile reception as he was not the "culprit".
"At this point I then decided to get all CSI about it and called the original Radio 4 reporter and he obligingly told me that whatever was said or intimated in the press six weeks ago after his story was first aired, it definitively was NOT Cesc Fabregas who was the culprit! So, deep breath, when Cesc got a negative reaction as he was substituted on Saturday, if any of that was anything to do with what I was reported to have said, first I am sorry to Cesc, I absolutely didn't mean that at all, it was misconstrued, but nonetheless I apologise. Secondly, I plead with the fans they adapt that reaction for the upcoming games. Cesc has released a number of statements of late that have been brave, honest and self-deprecating. He has been badly wronged and he didn't deserve that on Saturday, full stop. I hope that is crystal clear."
"For further clarity, no reporter from that or any other newspaper contacted me to ask for further comment or if they had the story correct, Funny that!"